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>if^Ss*r' h- ^.JhU'^vnan^i . 

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YEARS 1803 ANP 1809, 











London: Printed by J. Unwih, White Lion Court, Cornhill. 




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The following " Narrative" was written 
in the West Indies, in 1810, at thij previous 
suggestion, and for the sole amusement, of 
my own family ; since which, it has under- 
gone occasional revision, both with a view 
of leaving to my children a memento of 
their father's juvenile adventures, and also 
of committing it to press, should more 
competent judges deem such a course not 
to savour of presumption. 

The reader, who may run through this 
little volume, will not fail to observe, that it 
could not have been published at the time 
it was written, without risk of injury to 
those to whom I was indebted for protection; 
and when this cause ceased to operate, in 
consequence of the number of yeara which 

• •• 


had elapsed, I still delayed the publica- 
tion, from the fear it might not be found 
worthy the attention of the public. At 
length, however, trusting in the indulgence 
so generally shown to one who is not an 
author by profession, and mor^ especially 
to the liberality of my brother officers, I 
venture, late as it is, (but not without 
much diffidence) to publish this plain states 
ment '* of facts,'' requesting, the candid 
reader to bear in miad, that I make no 
pretensions to literary merit, my sole object 
being to convey the simple truth r in its 
simplest form. 


At the termination of the war, in the 
spring of 1802, I was paid off as a master's 
mate of the Royal Sovereign, bearing the 
flagof Vice Admiral Sir Henry Harvey,K.B. 
In June following, I joined the PhcEbe 
frigate; in September, captain the Hon. 
T. B. Capel was appointed ; we were sent 
to the Mediterranean, and there continued 
until the renewal of the war in 1803. |n 
July, the Phcebe was ordered off Toulon, 
to watch the enemy in that port : on our 
way thither, when off Civita Vecchia, two 
privateers were seen from the mast head, 
it being then a dead calm ; the boats, ably 
manned and well armed, were dispatched 
in chace, under the orders of the first 
Lieutenant Perkins, and after five hours' 
rowii^, about ten P. M. came up with 
one of them; but from an unfortunate 

medley of disastrous events, we were twice 
repulsed with the loss of eight men killed 
and wounded. 

Having reached our station off Toulon, 
on the night of the 3 1st of July, two arm- 
ed boats under the orders of Lieutenant 
Tickell, with one of which I was entrusted, 
were sent in shore for the purpose of cap- 
turing any vessel running along the coast, 
that he might judge worth the risk of at- 
tack ; having gained an eligible situation, 
under the land, near Cape Cecie, we lay 
upon our oars until dawn of day, when 
two settles were discovered standing to 
the westward, with a light breeze, they 
were instantly boarded, and carried, with- 
out resistance; they proved to be from 
Genoa, bound to Marseilles, with fruit and 
sundry merchandize. On rejoining the 
Phoebe, the sails of the prizes were found 
to be in such a tattered state, that Captain 
Capel j udged it proper to detain them two 
days in order to have them repaired, when 
I was appointed prize master to one, and 
ai midshipman, named Murray, to . the 
other, having with him an assistant bro- 

ther officer, named Whitehurst. Our orders 
were to proceed the following day to. Lord 
Nelson, then off the coast of Catalonia, and 
thence to Malta; unhappily for me it was 
otherwise ordained ; for at break of day 
on the 4th of August, four frigates, viz. ** La 
Corneille, (Commodore) Le Rhin, L'tJranie 
and La Thamise" were discovered about 
five miles astern; all sail was imme- 
diately crowded upon our little squadron, 
steering about S.S.W. with a moderate 
breeze from the W. N. W. ; as the day broke, 
the Redbridge schooner hove in sight on 
the larboard bow upon the opposite tack, 
having a transport under her convoy, and, 
passing within hail of the Phcebe, soon after 
spoke me. The lieutenant recommended 
my tacking and following him; but as I 
saw that by so doing I should be running 
into the teeth of the enemy, and inevitably 
taken, in a quarter of au hour, I preferred 
executing my captain's orders, by keeping 
my station as long as I could : to this end 
we cut the long boat adrift, and began to 
lighten the vessel by throwing the car^o 
overboard, and setting every yard of can- 


vass that could stand; but^ootwithstaBd- 
ing all our effortis the eilemy was rapidly 
gaining both on myself and on the Phcebe, 
wnd escape for either appeared impossible. 
Seeing the Red bridge persevere in en** 
;' deavouring to cross them, it occurred to 

me that Captain Capel might probably 
have directed the lieutenant to take the 
prizes under his convoy, and stand to the 
northward, in order to create a diversion, 
and thereby separate the pursuing enemy; 
this idea was strengthened by soon after 
observing the weathermost open her fire 
upon the schooner, which immediately 
struck, and, together with the other settle, 
hove too. The time lost in exchanging the 
prisoners, indicating no very zealous anxi- 
ety to resume the chase, also tended to con*- 
firm my suspicion; hence, doubting whether 
I ' had not erred in neglecting the advice 
(for it did not amount to an order) of the 
lieutenant of the Redbridge, I determined 
on bearing up, in the hope of getting to 
leeward, and enticing one of the frigates 
after nxe. At this time I was about three 
miles on the weather bow, and the Phoebe 


about four, a head, of the French squa- 
dron. Scarcely were, the *sails trimmed, 
and the impossibility of escape obvious, 
than I determined on running the vessel 
athwart hawse of the headmost, in the 
hope of doing some mischief, and thereby 
facilitating the escape of the Phoebe ; but 
this design was frustrated by our own 
helmsman, who, being a Frenchman,* and 
alarmed at the enemy's threat to sink us, 
disobeyed my orders in the conningf of the 
vessel. Seeing her spring too, I ran aft, 
to the helm, but it was too late, our 
rigging just cleared the main chains of the 
frigate, which, to my utter astonishment, 
hove too^ and sent a boat to take posses- 
sion ; thus, by a voluntary and unnecessary 
act, did the enemy execute that, which I 
had fondly hoped to effect, and which 

* This man went by the name of John Powell, he 
belonged to the Phoebe's Sailmaker's Crew, was sent 
on board the Prize to repair the sails, and was to haTe 
been returned to the ship. I afterwards gave him a 
certificate of baptism for Plymouth, and passing him- 
self as of Guernsey parents, he was never found out. 

t Directing the steering. 


was almost the buly act that could afford 
consolation in so painful a situation ; for, 
notwithstanding I was myself a prisoner, 
I could but indulge in feelings of tri- 
umph at seeing the Phcebe walk off in the 
face of a superior and much faster sailing 
foe. As the other frigates closed, they 
also hove too, thus allowing the Phcebe to 
make one of the most miraculous escapes 
that occurred during the war. In the 
mean time the corvette captured the trans- 
port. About half an hour was occu- 
pied in removing the prisoners and dis- 
patching the prizes to Toulon: during 
which period, the Phcebe was manoeuvring 
in defiance, firing guns and making signals 
as if communicating with a friendly force. 
The chace was renewed, and an officer 
ordered to the mast head to look out, who 
reported that he saw several large sail to 
windward ; the signal *' a fleet in sight,'* 
was immediately made to the commodore^ 
and soon after the squadron bore up for 
Toulon ; on approaching which, Admiral 
Gantheume, the commander in chief, by 
signal, ordered the chace to be resumed. 

evidently disapproving of the retnm ; but 
the Phoebe was then some distance to 
windward. Captain Capel, seeing the 
irresolution and want of energy in the 
French squadron, about four P. M . boldly 
bore down, fired at them, and hauled his 
wind again, as if desirous of enticing them 
off shore ; between six and seven P. M. 
they gave up the chace, and again made 
sail for Toulon, followed by the Phcebe. 
It is impossible to say with what discre* 
tionary power the commodore was in- 
vested, but it was nevertheless certain, 
from the decided advantage the French 
squadron had in sailing, that if they had 
continued the chace in either instance, the 
Phoebe must have been taken, for there 
was no friendly ship of war within many 
leagues. During the night the squadron 
lay too off the mouth of the harbour, and 
when day dawned, again gave chace, 
which was continued all day, taking care 
not to reach too far off shore ; in the even- 
ing they bore up and lay too as before. 
The 6th they again stood to sea^ and re* 
turning, about sunset, anchored in Toulon 


roads. The pleasurable feelings of curi- 
osity which every seaman experiences on 
entering a port which he has never be- 
fore visited, were absorbed in the recol- 
lection that I was a prisoner, cut off 
from my country and friends, at the break- 
ing out of a war, when I had served 
nearly seven years, and had buoyed my- 
self up with the hope that I was on the 
very eve of promotion ; these reflections, 
together with the conviction that I was so 
guarded as to preclude a probability of 
escape, tended to cast a temporary gloom 
over my spirits, and render me indifferent 
to the beauties of the surrounding scenery. 
The following day we were separately exa- 
mined before officers sent on board for the 
purpose, and our refusal to answer ques- 
tions^ put to us^ respecting the strength 
and situation of Lord Nelson, was con- 
strued into contempt, and so excited the 
rage of the captain of the Rhin, that he 
told us we were pirates ; this novel infor- 
mation did not in the least disconcert us, 
for we suspected the ignorance of the 
man, and afterwards learnt he had been a 


barber; indeed, the whole tenor of his 
conduct evinced the dreadful convulsion 
which society in France must have under- 
gone during the revolution, for such an 
ignorant, low-bred fellow to hav« risen to 
the command of a frigate. When, how- 
ever, it was explained to him that mid- 
shipmen in the British navy never bad 
commissions, he resumed his composure, 
and^ on my producing Captain Capel's 
written order, I was dismissed. White- 
hurst and Murray underwent similar exa*- 
minations, but with no better success. 
During the twenty-one days we were on 
board the Rhin, under quarantine, the 
Phcebe frequently hove in sight, and, as 
we were informed, made repeated pro- 
posals for an exchange of prisoners, but 
unfortunately, they were too well satisfied 
with such living proofs of their prowess 
in naval arms, to accede to them. We 
were occasionally permitted to take exer- 
cise in the quarantine ground, until the 
morning of the 26th of August, when 
Murray, Whitehurst, and myself, the mas- 
ter of the Transport and ninety men, were 


landed about two miles to the westward 
of the town ; thus separating us from the 
officers of the schooner, consisting of 
Lieutenant M'Kenzie of the Maidstone, 
passenger, and six midshipmen, (Lieu* 
tenant Lempriere, the commander of the 
schooner, having been drowned in the 
roads, by the upsetting of a boat). Our 
separation from these officers, was caused 
by our conduct at the mock court of in- 
quiry ; we were told that we did not de- 
serve to be treated like our comrades, and 
therefore were sent with the men^ On 
landing, we were received by a captain's 
guard of infantry, who very uncourteously 
pushed' us indiscriminately into ranks^ 
and, forming themselves in file on each 
side, waited only the order to march, 
which was soon announced by a brace of 
dismal drums at the head of the escort, 
previous notice being given, through the 
medium of the interpreter, that the first 
who dared to wander from the ranks, 
would be shot. It was really ludicrous to 
witness the parade of triumph evinced by 
our conmianding officer, and the readiness 


with which his every gesture was imitated 
by some of his obsequious subordinates, 
who liberally dealt out blows with the flat 
of swords upon the shoulders of any one, 
who, even from awkwardness, might incline 
out of the direct line of march. In this 
way we trudged along, with each a loaf 
of ammunition bread slung over the shoul- 
der, and only four dollars (which White- 
hurst happened to possess) amongst us; 
occasionally halting to rest, until about 
four P. M. when we were drummed in 
form through a village, and then retro- 
graded, for the purpose of being drawn up 
in front of a large swinery, to witness the 
expulsion of pigs, sheep, and goats, to 
make room for us. In the course of an 
hour, the lieutenant gave us leave to dine 
in the village, attended by a sergeant, by 
which he incurred the displeasure of his 
brutal captain ; we soon after returned to 
the place of confinement, where we re- 
mained smothered in dust and dirt, until 
the morning, when we were again mus- 
tered into ranks, and after receiving a 
black loaf and seven-pence halfpenny each, 


as five days' pay, were drumined, as before, 
out of the village. Our march viras through 
a rugged country, the scenery of which 
was very picturesque. The captain of the 
escort, generally keeping the interpreter 
by his side, occasionally (through him) en- 
tered into conversation with one or other 
of us ; availing ourselves of a favourable 
opportunity, when apparently he was a 
little less morose than usual, we endea* 
voured to obtain permission to walk by 
ourselves, instead of being restricted to 
the ranks ; but he was deaf to our request. 
We ceased to wonder that he should evince 
so little feeling for our situation, when he 
related story after story of the bloody 
deeds committed during the reign of terror, 
in which it seemed, by his own account, 
he had been a frequent and willing actor ; 
he and the captain of the Rhin were, pro- 
bably, fair specimens of the set of hardened 
miscreants which the revolution had pro- 
duced, and served to show, that in those 
troublesome times, abandonment of princi- 
ple and display of turpitude, no less than 
of talent, led the way to proniotion and 


rank. The third night we arrived at Aix, 
and were confined in what appeared to 
have been an old convent, in the yard of 
which, being permitted to range, we seized 
the opportunity of washing our linen, and 
were much pleased to learn, that we were 
no longer to be escorted by that inhuman 
offspring of tumult, who had had charge of 
us from Toulon. He resigned us to the care 
of a venerable old gentleman, whose first 
act of kindness was to inquire, in what 
manner we had been treated by his prede- 
cessor, and who seemed indignantly sur- 
prised that no distinction had been made be- 
tween the officers and the men. The know- 
ledge of this unmerited and unjust severity 
excited his warmest sympathy, and called 
forth the exercise of those nobler feelings, 
which seemed to flow from a natural be- 
nevolence of heart, for his kindness and 
attentions were unbounded; whilst his 
affability and cheerfulness made us almost 
forget we were prisoners. "Voyons 
soyez gais," observed this good old gentle- 
man, " the day may come when you may 
think yourselves happy in having been 


prisoners." Although I gave him full ere* 
dit for his philosophy, and the benevo- 
lence which prompted the observation, 
and felt grateful for our change of treat- 
ment, yet the result proved him to be no 
prophet; for I have never had cause to 
rejoice at an event vi^hich kept me so many 
years back in the service ; however, so it 
was, and I took advantage of my situation 
by endeavouring to learn something of the 
language, in occasional conversation with 
the interpreter ; the next day's march 
brought us to a dirty village, where the 
church was our prison for the night. On 
the 1st of September, we reached Tarascon, 
and were locked up in the tower ; before 
the old officer took leave, he ordered the 
jailor to place us in a comfortable room by 
ourselves, and treat us as officers, though 
not on parole, that being contrary to the 
order from Toulon; in the morning he 
took us for a walk through the town, and 
in the afternoon sent a boy with us up the 
river, where we enjoyed a refreshing bathe; 
after washing and drying our linen^ we 
reluctantly returned to prison ; this was 


the first time since our capture that we 
had been without a guard, and might have 
easily decamped y had we been so inclined; 
but certainly no opportunity, however 
tempting, could have induced us to violate 
the frank and friendly confidence reposed 
in us by our philosophical veteran ; in the 
evening he again visited us, and with 
much feeling, recommended us to the par- 
ticular indulgence of his successor, who, 
for the sake of distinction, was dubbed 
the fat captain. Early the following day, 
we passed through the town of Beaucaire, 
and, arriving in the evening at Nismes, 
were marched to prison; but were soon 
permitted to go into the town, through the 
kind interference of some English gentle- 
men, here residing as ** d6t6nus." 

The next morning we breakfasted with 
a Mn Walker, at whose house we had the 
good fortune to meet Doctor Grey,* from 
whom we received the kindest attention ; 
we dined with him on that day, and those 
who have the happiness of his acquain- 


• Now Sir Thomas Giiey, residing at Ramsgate. 


tance, will best judge of the pleasure we 
experienced on that occasion; certainly 
his ravenous guests did ample justice to his 
genuine hospitality. During our sojourn 
at Nismes, the nationality of Englishmen 
was conspicuously shown forth in the 
assiduous attention of the " detenus" to- 
wards their captive countrymen; indeed, 
they considerably allayed the ennui and 
mortification of captivity, by confidently 
assuring us, that an exchange of prisoners 
had been arranged between the two go- 
vernments, and that in six weeks wemigiit 
rest satisfied of a happy return to the 
service of our country. In the full expec- 
tation of this desirable event, I availed 
myself of every opportunity, in the mean 
time, of acquiring some trifling know- 
ledge of the French language. They also 
made a subscription for the men, which 
I distributed amongst them in equal 

About this time, Mr. Danderson, the 
master of the Transport, was kind enough 
to cash Whitehurst a draft for twenty 
pounds, by which means we fared much 


better. Proceeding oil our journey, in 
two days we reached Montpellier, and 
were delivered into the hands of the com- 
mandant, for the night, who ordered us to 
be confined in the citadel. This was in 
so ruinous a state, that we might have 
decamped with little difficulty, had we 
known where to go or how to act; the 
subject was mentioned to me, but my hope 
of an early exchange (in which the right 
of being included was then understood to 
be forfeited by an attempt to escape), our 
total ignorance of the country, of the means 
of embarking, and of the language, in- 
duced me to think it unadvisable. Could 
I have foreseen what followed, I should 
have decided differently ; nevertheless, my 
services were offered, but no iattempt was 

From Montpellier we proceeded to 
Beziers„ thence to . Narbonne ; through 
Carcassone, Castelnaudary, Ville Franche, 
and several villages, until we arrived at 
Toulouse, on the 12th of S'eptember, 
when we were again placed at the head of 
the ranks, and drummed in triumph to 



the town hall. After remaining about an 
hour, surrounded by military and an im- 
mense populace, the guard was with- 
drawn, and we were desired to consider 
ourselves on parole; permission was given 
to take lodgings in the town, and we were 
further directed to apply for a passport, 
whenever we felt disposed to go beyond 
the suburbs. 

The general, on being asked if our 
paroles were to be signed, replied, " No ; a 
British officer values his honour too much, 
to render his signature necessary ;" when 
this was repeated to us, it may easily be 
imagined with what patriotic importance 
the compliment to our national character 
was received ; with what feelings of pride 
his Britannic Majesty's midshipmen re- 
solved to merit the eulogium of the enemy. 
On being told we might retire, the crowd 
fell back, opening a lane with a d^ree of 
civility and politeness that somewhat sur- 
prised us : we strolled up the nearest 
street, for all were alike to us, not know- 
ing where to go, or what to do. To those 
who have never quitted their own fire- 


sides, our situation at this moment may 
seem to have been desolate enough : — with- 
out friends; without experience; without 
any knowledge of the language of those, 
ainongst whom the fate of war had thrown 
us. But sailors are not prone to despon- 
dency; and the buoyancy of youthful spirits 
kept us from dwelling upon present diffi- 
culties, or anticipating future troubles. 
There was, at any rate, a novelty in our 
present circumstances, which excited a 
pleasurable sensation, peculiar to itself; 
heightened, in some measure, by the know'- 
ledge that we were no longer subject to 
the caprice and insult of a military up- 
start, but enjoying, at least, a partial ray of 
liberty. Scarcely had we reached a cross 
street, when, as gazing around in the per- 
plexity of indecision which way to turn, a 
gentleman came up, and, addressing us in 
English, volunteered his services in seek- 
ing a lodging ; after rambling about some 
time, as if begging an entrance at every 
door, we found ourselves in one of the bye 
lanes, and here we succeeded in hiring a 
room at nine livres per month; the fumi- 



ture of which consisted of a bed, not un^ 
tenanted, three chairs and a table. In 
this hovel, Whitehurst, Murray, and my- 
self existed three weeks ; at the expiration 
of that period, our pay being augmented 
to twenty-five sols per day, we were ena^ 
bled to dine at a *^ table-d' hdte," and get 
into a more comfortable lodging, with the 
additional luxury of a bed each. 

Mr. Fitzsimons (the gentleman who pro- 
cured us our first lodging) introduced me 
to a family of the name of Prevost, witl^ 
whom he resided. It was from Mr. FitZr 
Simons that I learnt the first rudiments of 
the French language ; but I was still more 
indebted to Mrs. Prevost, a most accomr 
plished and pleasing lady, who took infi- 
nite pains to instruct me, and by whose 
flattering influence I was encouraged to 
apply so closely to my studies, that in two 
months I was able to make myself under- 
stood; my comrades were also studying 
French, and making rapid improvement; 
so that, stimulating each other to ardent 
exertion in our new pursuit, we seldom 
thought of amusements till the evening. 


Being considered as military officers, we 
were allowed the privilege of going to the 
theatre upon paying four shillings and 
eight-pence per month ; this was not only 
an agreeable, but a profitable lounge, and 
we seldom neglected to attend. On the 
arrival of the officers who had been taken 
in the Redbridge, several of them joined 
our table-d' h6te, and we mustered rather 
a large and merry party. . With respect to 
society, I was more fortunate than my 
companions, as I frequently dined, and 
passed my evenings, at the Prevost's. In 
the beginning of October, I received a 
remittance from my father, by which' our 
means were so materially increased, that 
we no longer coufined ourselves to short 
commons, but indulged in comforts to 
which we had long been strangers. 

During our stay in this once noble capi- 
tal, we past some happy days, and being 
in continual expectation of an exchange 
of prisoners, were the more anxious to 
acquire the language, before orders arrived 
to march us to the coast. The seamen 
were not all so patient, for several of them 


Attempted to escape; one party of five, 
after marching and countermarching four- 
teen days, supposed they had reached the 
neighbourhood of the Pyrenees ; when, to 
their utter surprise and consternation, they 
found themselves within a few miles of 
the town; thus situated, and being half 
starved, they despaired of getting away, 
and delivered themselves up. Notwith- 
standing this feilure, several others made 
similar attempts, but I recollect only one 
individual who did not return to prison ; 
and his success was owing to his having 
preserved his American passport, which 
he had obtained when afloat, to protect 
him from the impress. On the 2d of 
December, orders having arrived for our 
removal, I waited on Mrs. Prevost, to 
take leave; after expressing her sorrow 
at my departure, and the hopes she enter- 
tained of my return, she embraced me as 
tenderly as though I had been her own 
child. I left the house with gratitude and 
regret, joined my comrades, and, after a 
few necessary arrangements, bade a final 
adieu to Toulouse. The marching party 


consisted of eleven, who, being now con- 
sidered on parole, had no guard; being 
accompanied only by one gendarme to 
shew the road, and take the ** feuille de 
route ;" a cart was allowed, to carry the 
baggage. We proceeded at discretion 
during three days, dined and slept at the 
different inns, like independent gentlemen, 
and enjoyed all the luxuries our limited 
finances would afford. On our arrival at 
Auch, about forty miles west of Toulouse, 
we hired lodgings, in different parties; 
six* of us took up our quarters in the house 
of a " cidevant" nobleman, who was parti- 
cularly kind on all occasions. He fre- 
quently amused us with the relation of his 
adventures, during the horrid times of 
blood and rapine ; also with accounts of 
his subsequent travels ; dwelling particu- 
larly on those in England, where he had 
passed some very happy days in high life. 
fie possessed all the distinguishing quali- 
ties of the gentleman, and had all the 
communicative intelligence of the learned 
traveller, without any of that " gasconade," 
that bombastic exaggeration, tending to 


self exaltation, for which the generality of 
French travellers are so famed; indeed, 
his every act and expression, whether 
flowing from head or heart, evinced that 
nature had bestowed upon him her choicest 
gifts, in bountiful profusion. During our 
stay at Auch, we had unrestricted liberty, 
and could ramble about the country at 
pleasure. On the 11th of December, an 
order arrived from Paris to send us to 
Verdun, and we were to set out the fol- 
lowing day. Our finances being reduced 
to a very low ebb, we consulted our truly 
noble friend, who, not enduring the 
thought of our travelling such a distance, 
in the depth of winter, with nothing more 
than soldiers' allowance, persuaded the 
bankers to lend me twenty pounds on a 
draft ; this timely supply gave new vigour 
to our spirits, and enabled us to fortify 
ourselves against the inclemencies of the 
weather. At noon, we took leave of our 
worthy friend, and departed ; and, arriving 
in the evening at Beaumont, we were very 
comfortably housed, yet strictly guarded. 
The next day, reaching M ontauban,. after 


a tedious march, we were drawn up in 
line, in front of the town hall, and formally 
inspected by the commissary^ who, with 
much apparent politeness, enticed us into 
a prison by a most artful piece of dupli- 
city, intended, no doubt, to wound, our 
feelings; he was, however, disappointed 
in his hopes of annoyance, for we could 
not refrain from a general burst of laugh- 
ter at the simple manner in which we had 
been entrapped. On entering a room, 
which had been formed by the spade, we 
found the barred windows but a few feet 
above the surface of the water; it was 
only on one side that we had either light 
or air, and this attended by the refreshing 
vapours of the river, and the cooling 
dampness of the surrounding earth, oozing 
salt-petre from, every pore. We requested 
to be allowed to see the commandant, but 
to no effect ; soon after, a lieutenant was 
sent to visit us, with whom we expostu- 
lated on the impropriety and hardship of 
our situation, observing, that in all civi- 
lized countries, officers, who had become 
prisoners of war, were put upon parole, 


and that during our travels in France, we 
had never, until now, experienced treat- 
ment which would have been tolerated 
only in the days of Robespierre. He was 
somewhat nettled at the remark, and told 
us, he was desired by the commandant, to 
say, that he was himself once a prisoner 
in England, and that, from having been 
confined in Dorchester castle, he had 
sworn to retaliate ; that, exclusive of bis 
oath, he had the most unlimited canfidaice 
in the British officers, but that he judged 
it prudent to have a little security also. 
This fellow, like his commissary, another 
of those " parvenus" sprung from the very 
dregs of the people, and actuated by piti- 
ful motives of revenge^ kept us immured 
in this most unhealthy hole, during the 
following day. On the morning of the 
15th, we departed, with a different guard, 
and in the evening were comfortably bil- 
letted in a village. The next day, pro- 
ceeding on our jonmey, we arrived, at a 
late hour, at Cahors. Thence we marched 
northwardly : nothing occurred worth no- 
tice, but the loss of the guards, who had 


fallen asleep iu drunkeDDess ; we, how- 
ever, marched on without .them. On the 
19th, we slept at Gourdon ; on the 20th, 
at Martel; and on the 21st, after marching 
over rocks and hills, in a wretched coun- 
try, broke suddenly upon a most beautiful 
view over an extensive and rich valley, in 
the centre of which rises the town of 
Brive. Scarcely had we sat down to din- 
ner at this place, when we were surprised 
by the gendarmes, who, from, a state of 
consternation on account of the appre- 
hended loss of their prisoners, became as 
much elated, when they found we were 
all present. On the 22nd, notwithstanding 
the weather was stormy, we were obliged 
to proceed, but, by the consent of the 
guards, hired mules, and got that night 
into Uzerches, a distance of about thirty- 
five miles; the next day we reached 
Limoges, and were conducted to the door 
of the prison; but there making a firm 
stand, in spite of the threats of the colonel, 
succeeded in obtaining permission from 
4he genera], to be quartered in an inn. 
A strong guard of veterans was, however. 


sent to surround the bouse. Here we re- 
mained the {24th; the25thy when preparing 
to depart, a long bill was presented, with 
the expenses of the gendarmes included, 
and it was with much difficulty we could 
convince our host, that, not having invited 
them to guard us, we had too much urba- 
nity to offer so gross an insult to the 
colonel, as to pay for his guests, and there- 
fore desired that the demand might be 
made upon him; this so incensed these 
members of the legion of honour, that they 
swore it should cost us dear; however, 
nothing material occurred. Journeying 
on, and halting occasionally, as inclinatioa 
urged, we ate our mournful Christmas 
dinner in a miserable village, where we 
stopped for the night. In this manner we 
trudged on, two days, and on the third, a 
dispute arose between the landlord and 
our commissariat department, in conse- 
quence of the nefarious impositions of the 
former, when the mayor interposed, and 
cast us, with costs. 

During the dispute, I entered an adjoin- 
ing bed room, and observing on the mantle 


various little images in plaster of Paris, in 
the midst of which was the bust of the 
adored Buonaparte, and no one being 
near, I could not resist the temptation of 
placing it head downwards, in a vessel 
which was no ornament to a mantle piece, 
nor usually found there ; the arrangement 
of the images I also altered, so as to make 
them appear ridiculing this misfortune of 
the " premier consul." In the midst of 
my amusement, the order of march was 
given, and I hurried out unseen. We 
journeyed on about six leagues with a 
morose set of gendarmes, who, on entering 
a public house in the evening, made pri-p 
vate arrangements with the host to impose 
on the prisoners; in consequence of aq 
attempt to frustrate this iniquitous design, 
we were enticed from the tavern, entrapped 
by an artifice similar to the one practised 
at Montauban, and locked up in an un- 
furnished house, with nothing but straw, 
and short commons. We, nevertheless, 
joked away the hours in good humour, 
preferring present inconvenience, to the 
piore agreeable comforts of a tavern, at- 


tended by imposition and insolence. Pro- 
ceeding on our journey, we were occa- 
sionally lodged in a tavern, or a prison, 
at the caprice of the guard ; who happily 
on the 29th, were superseded by a more 
rational set. These we instantly b^an to 
flatter, and to abuse their predecessors ; 
a method of ingratiating oneself, and turn- 
ing to account the proverbial vanity of 
such people of this country, generally 
successful, and it here had the desired 
effect. On our arrival at Argentan, I pur- 
chased of one of my companions an old 
horse for 12s. 6d. ; this poor jaded animal 
afforded amusement for several days, till 
at length I sold him for 3s. 6d. We 
quitted this town on the 1st of January, 
1804, and passing through a beautiful 
country, reached Chateauroux, and there 
remained the following day. 

The gendarmes, whom flattery had so 
much influenced, now left us; and not- 
withstanding they recommended us to 
their successors, as "de braves gens,** 
we experienced different treatment ; they 
frequently spoke harshly and insolently. 



hinting at the same time, that we had not 
conducted ourselves properly ; this being 
unintelligible, and having often found on 
such occasions, a deportment bordering 
on " hauteur" to produce the best effects, 
vrith the " canaille," we scarcely noticed 
them. In the evening we entered a public 
house, and on passing through the kitchen, 
observed the entrance of an adjoining pri- 
son, and suspecting it was intended for our 
quarters, a feint of resistance was made ; 
it was, however, a fruitless effort, and we 
were compelled to enter. In vain we re- 
monstrated and assured them they would 
be punished for disobeying the order which 
had been shown to us by the late guard, 
from the general at Auch, relative to our 
treatment. They became excessively en- 
raged, and, at length, one said, "You are 
in prison by a counter order lately received 
from Auch, for having put Buonaparte's 
head into a ' pot-de-chambre.' " A silent 
gaze of astonishment, was followed by 
sudden gusts of laughter, which so thun- 
dered through the prison, as to drown the 
voice of the incensed orator ; and nothing 


could be heard but '' Buonaparte/' and 
" Diable ;" the louder he spoke, the more 
boisterous was our mirth, until, frantic 
with rage, he drew his sword, rushed for- 
ward, and thrust it through the grated hole 
in the door, stamped, and swore in such a 
foaming passion, that when the storm of 
derision was over, he could scarcely arti- 
culate : — 

'^ Eacli passion dimm'd his face, 
*^ Thrice changed with pale ire, enyy, and despair/' 

It was sometime before we ceased laugh- 
ing at this truly ridiculous event, for we 
had forgotten the boyish frolic alluded to, 
and had not the least idea that it could be 
thought of sufficient importance to cause 
an official report, and an order by a ^^ cou- 
rier de la republique," that we should be 
cast into prison. No sooner had the gen- 
darmes retired, than the jailor supplied us 
with clean straw, and set his family cook- 
ing, so that we fared very well, in this 
otherwise miserable dein. On the 4th, 
5th, and 6th, we marched on, and, in de- 
fault of prisons, were quartered in the 


public houses. On the Tth, we arrived at 
Orleans, and were joined by Lieutenant 
Prater, of the second West India regiment, 
captured on his passage from Honduras 
to England. 

The next day we proceeded to Pethi- 
vier. Here our fare was wretched enough; 
short commons, and a truss of straw, in a 
small tower, were our accommodation for 
the night. On the 11th, we journeyed on 
to Melun, where again, in the other ex* 
treme, we were lodged in a comfortable 
inn, and permitted to stroll about the 
town without the least interruption, and 
even without a gendarme. The 12th was 
a " jour de repos ;" whether it was thought 
too great an honour for us to pass so near 
" la bonne ville de Paris,*' or not, I cannot 
say ; but instead of taking the direct road 
to Verdun, the next day our course was 
shaped to the S. E. and we slept at Belle- 
ville; thence eastwardly, and dined in a 
viUage^ where the gendarmes again at- 
tenkpted to make us pay for escort, but 
we had travelled too far to be such dupes. 
On our arrival at Troyes, the foUoMring 



day, the guard was about ta conduct us 
to prison, when we insisted upon halting 
at an inn, until the pleasure of the general 
should be known; finding they watered 
at our firmness, we desired that one of the 
gendarmes should conduct two of us to 
his house, where we had an immediate 
interview ; instead of receiving us with the 
contemptible pomp of a mnshrocmi gene- 
ral, he immediately presented chairs, and, 
with the mild dignity of the accomplished 
g^itleman, expressed his approbation of 
our request to be considered on parole, 
gave the necessary directions to the gen- 
daime, and ordered him to rehire. He 
then said, if we were desirous to rcnoaain 
in the town a few days, the permission 
should be granted; but, as our finances 
and indination were not in unison, we 
declined his kind offer, with many thanks. 
We returned to our friends, elated with 
Hie success of our mission; all partici- 
paied in the pleasure, not merely from 
having escaped the filth and vermin of a 
priMO, ^t abo tram its giving us acer* 
tain degree oifconsequenoe in the eyes of 


the gendarmes, who afterwards became 
somewhat more respectful in their tJeport- 
ment. It may not be irrelevant here to 
insert a remark made at the time, that 
when we met with an officer of the 
** ancien regime/' we were generally treat- 
ed like gentlemen, but when under those 
sprung up from the revolutionary ** ca- 
naille," known, in France, by the appella- 
tion of '- enfans de terreur," we, on the 
contrary, met with insolence and severity. 
We left Troyes, on the 16th, and halted, 
to breakfast in a village, when the remains 
of my twenty pounds were -expended on 
a scanty meal. Lieutenant M^'^izie, see- 
ing ttiat the reduced circumstances of our 
pwty now compelled us to keep aloof from 
^ thedhmer table, most handsomely insisted 
that his remaining cash should be shared 
amongst us, so that by his liberality, we 
again fered very well. This was not the 
only instance of his kind interference in 
my behalf. He also had been harshly 
treated by the gendarmes ; and, such was 
his ntter detestation and abborrence, at 
that time, .of evwy thing French, that he 



would not even, study the language, lest it 
might tend to abate his determined hatred ; 
but such feelings were not the natural 
production of his benevolent heart ; they 
had been planted there by insolence and 
oppression, which his noble mind could 
scarcely endure : all who know him will 
unite in declaring him worthy of the com- 
pliment of the poet : — 

<^ The patriot Tirtues 
** That distend thy thought, spread on thy front, . 
** And in thy bosom glow." 

The 19th, we halted at Chalons, on the 
Mame ; the 20th, at St. Menehould ; and, 
on the 21st, in spite of the very bad 
weather^ reached the end of our journey — 
the long wished for Verdun. Upon being 
escorted to the citadel, certain regulations, 
as the conditions of my parole, were given 
to me for perusal. These I signed ; per- 
mission was then given me to retire into 
the town, where I took lodgings suitable 
to my finances. I found about 400 Eng- 
lish, and a constant influx for several days. 

I shall not fatigue the reader with a re- 
petition of those occurrences in Verdun 


which have already appeared before the 
public, in various shapes, but confine my- 
self to the leading features of the discipline 
of the dep6t, and a few other particulars 
which may not be altogether uninterestuig. 
But I shall first recall to mind, that on the 
renewal of hostilities, in 1 803, Buonaparte 
detained all British subjects, between the 
ages. of nine, and sixty, throughout the re- 
publican dominions, as an alleged act of 
retaliation for the seizure of French mer- 
chant vessels, on the immediate declara- 
tion of war; whether the blow preceded 
or followed the word,, might be said 
to be nothing to a midshipman; but the 
feet proved, that it concerned him very 
materially, inasmuch as there was in 
consequence no exchange of prisoners. 
But, as it is equally unnecessary, and con- 
trary to my inclination to give an opinion 
upon that political subject, I shall keep 
within the limits I have marked out for 
myself, and state, that the unfortunate 
Englishmen who had been thus captured, 
were denominated " d6t6nus," without the 


benefit of any stipend for their makife* 

In the autumn of 1803, the seTeral de- 
p6t8 of these '* det«iu8»" and of officers cm 
parole, were concentrated in Verdun ; the 
command of which was entrusted to a 
man named Wirion, who, during the reyq- 
lution, under the auspices of Bemadotte^ 
rose rapidly to the rank of general oi gen* 
darmerie, but was celebrated only as 
adroit police officer. No sooner bad 
man entered upon bis new office, than be 
established a system of ^ e^ionage,''in i«i* 
tation of the police of the whole republic^ 
and thereby frequently acquired the ear- 
liest intimation of things which we fancied 
unknown to many of our friends. It wa». 
computed that he had no less than fiHy 
principal informers, on whom he could de- 
pend, and each of these, one or moremb<nr- 
dinate reporters, besides the eighty gen- 
darmes, who, (one mar^chal de logis ex- 
cepted) may be added to that number ; many 
of them also employed the " bourgeoberie,'^ 
and s^rvantti, to collect their gleanings. 


Had Boonaparte carefully searched bis 
army list, he could not have found two 
men less calculated to preside over a body 
of gaitlemen, than the General Wirion 
and the Commandant Cour^elles, the only 
distinction between them being; that to 
the depravity of an unprincipled rapa- 
cious tyrant, the latter added the Tindic- 
tive malice and manners of a ruffian. The 
prolific genius of the former was con* 
tinuatly on the rack to invent new means 
of accumulating wealth, alike indifferent 
to justice or honour ; heuce» aa long as the 
prisoners could afford to gratify his ava- 
rice^ he was always ready to grant any 
indulgence in his power. As erroneous 
notions have been entertained respecting 
the nature of parole in Verdun, it may not 
be amiss to state^ that every officer, before 
he was released from the citadel, was 
obliged to sign a paper, promising, upon 
his honour, to conform to the regulations 
of the dep6t, and not to escape, if per* 
mitted to reside in the town ; as this pro* 
mise was considered binding, all honour* 
able young men who were determined to 



depart, committed an offence, which would 
entail deprivation of parole ; for it was an 
acknowledged rule, that the instant any 
one was put into a prison, or even taken 
into custody by armed men, (no matter 
from what cause), parole ceased. Various 
permissions, such as ranging six miles 
from the town, living in the country, and 
a few others, were after indulgencies, not 
contained in the conditions of parole, but 
frequently obtained by the intervention of 
a " douceur/' The principal regulations 
were as follows : signing in a book at the 
" appel," according to rank, viz. captains 
in the navy, and field officers, once a 
month, lieutenants, every five days, mid- 
shipmen and others, twice a day, (thus 
calculating the word of a midshipman as 
equal only to one sixtieth part of that of 
a field officer) ; the neglect of this regula- 
tion was atoned for by the payment of 
two shillings and sixpence each time. The 
returning into town whenever the gun was 
fired, this being the signal of desertion, 
and also efvery evening at sunset, previous 
to the shutting of the gates. Our place 


of abode was recorded in the books^ and 
we were, therefore, obliged to give notice 
whenever we thought proper to remove. 

To the commissioned o£Scers the privi- 
lege was accorded by the British govern- 
ment of drawing quarterly bills for their 
pay. Buonaparte gave express orders that 
English bills should not be negotiated; 
this was acted upon for a time, during 
which the officers lived on French allow- 
ance : but afterwards, they got their bills 
cashed, at a discount of twenty-five per cent. 
Midshipmen received, every month, from 
the senior officer, half of their pay, but sub- 
ject to a diminution of from ten to twenty- 
five per cent. Besides the above, a monthly 
allowance was received from the French 
government, as follows: — 

Colonels and post captains ••«•• 4 

Majors and commanders 8 

Captains in the army, and lieutenants 

in the navy • 2 

Lieutenants in the army, clergymen, 

and pursers ••••••••• 1 10 

Midshipmen, ensigns, warrant officers, 

and masters of merchant vessels . . 1 5 


The ** detenus," holding military rank, 
received the same pay as prisoners of war, 
but the civilians nothing. The needy 
civilians, however, received from the ma- 
nagers of the patriotic fund, scHnething 
every month, proportionate to their fieuni- 
Ues; 80 that after the first year or two^ 
there were but very few who suffered, ex- 
cept from thieirown misconduct. 

There vrae well-r^ulated public schools 
established* at the exptwse of the above 
fund, at all the principal depdts ; and at 
Verdun there were two, one of which was 
for young gentlemen. These schools proved 
of infinite benefit; since, by means of 
them, not only were the boys trained up 
to industrious habits, but many of the 
. Steady seamen, learned to read, and write^ 
and also acquired a considerable know- 
ledge of the principles of navigation. 
These, in turn, not unfrequently became 
tutors to others; such pursuits afforded 
an amusing occupation to many, and con- 
siderably diminished the irksomeness of 
hours, which must otherwise have been 
intolerably tedious and hateful. From 


the incongruous mbLture of aH ranks and 
fortunes^ m.^eAxxxny thete arose a diver- 
sily of humour and eccentricity, from 
which, frequent quarrdlii^ and duelling 
migbt have been expected ; but, consider- 
ing that there were assembled, under the 
most distressing circunistances, about one 
thoufsazid persons of all pursuits, deiroid of 
eren a hepe of restorslioh to liberty, which 
might be supposed to sour the temper, duels 
but seldbm eoculrred: not more than three or 
four proved fatal during Ae eleven years ; 
and those wbtdb took place, appeared to 
proceed more fircmi lashioiisMe compul- 
sion, than from any revengeful dei^e of 
reparatiott; the cause of almost every 
quarrel could be traced to gamblmg,. 
wine, or women. There was, however^ 
one duel worth nfientioniiig; two mids,. 
both niider fomteen years of age,, wwe 
found shooting at etch other across a 
tabte^ in tbdir l6dgii^, and nothing bat 
the bursting open the door, and forcifbly 
taking their pistiols from them^ put an end 
to the combat. Amongst the various? al- 
lurements to iniquity, the gambling table,. 


otherwise termed '^hell/' was the most 
notorious, because sanctioned as legal, 
and regularly attended by a body of gen-i 
darmes, to maintain order; for which, 
General Wirion levied a fine of J? 100 per 
month, although he was one of the pro- 
prietors of the funds, which amounted to 
about i&2000. The principal games were, 
*.* rouge et noire," and "roulette/' The 
Satan of this gang of robbers, made him* 
self acquainted with the afiairs of almost 
every one in the dep6t, and well knew to 
whom he could lend money with safety; 
he was constantly on the watch to ensnare 
the unwary and inebriated, which practice 
had taught him to do, under the specious 
mask of friendship, without creating sus- 
picion. I cannot refrain from reciting an 
awful instance of the serious consequences 
resulting from a young man becoming his 
own master too early in life, and placing 
too much confidence in his own powers, 
to withstand the snares of temptation, in 
the society of the profligate. An unfor* 
tunate young man, in order to while away 
the tedious hours, after a party, was en* 


ticed into this sink of iniquity, when he 
was tempted to throw on the table a half 
crown ; he won, and repeated the experi- 
ment several evenings successfully, till at 
length he lost. The manager immediately 
offered him a ^^ rouleau" of fifty pounds, 
which, in the heat of play, he thought- 
lessly accepted, and lost. He then drew 
a bill on his agent, which Captain Bren- 
ton"*^ endorsed, this he also lost ; he drew 
two others, which met with the same fate ; 
and the next morning he ^(as found dead 
in his bed, with his limbs much distorted, 
and his fingers buried in his sides. On 
his table was found an empty laudanum 
bottle, and scraps of paper whereon he 
had been practising the signature of Cap- 
tain Brenton. On inquiry, it was found 
that he had forged that o£Scer's name to 
the two last bills. Thus did a once 
respectable young man meet a most dread* 
fill and disgraceful end, from being ex* 
posed, at too "early a period in life, to the 
temptation of gambling. Another cir- 

^ Now Sir JaUeel Brenton. 


cuiDflftance ako occurre^i, the atrocity >>f 
Mri^icli.'was somewhat tinged #i4i the hn^ 
diopoufi. A clerk, named Chambers, 
losing his monthly pay, which was his all, 
at the gambling table, begged to borrow 
of the managers ; but they knew his his- 
tory too well to lend withoHt security, 
and therefore demanded something in 
pawn ; — ^ 1 have nothing to give,** replied 
the youth, ^'but my ears,*— ^•^ Well,** said 
one of the witty demons, •''let us hare 
Aem," l!he yooOh immediately took out of 
hts pocket u 'knife, and actnally cut off nil 
the fleshy part of one ^f his ears, and 
threw it on the table, to 1?he astonishment 
of the admiring gamesters ; he reoeired 
his two dollars, and gaoMed on. When 
this «ircumstanf>e was reported to Ihe 
senior ^sffieer, ^Hbe hero ww sent to BitcSie. 
These were not die only instances of the 
pernicious effects of pHblic gambling; 
some wefte led on from one wice to smo- 
ther, untS totally rmned; white oiftiers, in 
despair, destroyed themselves by 'drink- 
ing, and other debaucheries. The town 
was not puriiied ef ite grand sources of 


cormption^ until Buonaparte, in 1806, 
sJbolisfaed the tables* As a proof that 
these swindlisqg managers visited Yexdmi 
solely to defraud the English, the follow^ 
ing notice was placed upon ihe door of 
the gaming house :-^^* This bank is estab- 
lished for the accommodation of the Eng- 
lish ; all Frenchmen are forbidden to play." 
When such was the unblushing avowal, 
one cannot be surprised at the number of 
atrocities, peculaticms, and extortions, of 
those in authority. I have taken some trou- 
ble in making the subjoined calculations, 
for the perfect accuracy of which it would 
be impossible to vouch, from the difficulty 
of ascertaining the facts; but, ju^ing from 
what was made puUic, I shall be very 
near the truth when I lay the robberies 
committed by the military authorities on 
the English, at about £3Q,000 ; to ^j 
nothing of those by the civil paw^, nor of 
the extortions of Jews, money dealers, 
sad the *!bourgeoiserie*~ in general; for l3ie 
English appeared feir game-for all, md 
he that could rob them most, was the 
moisft envied. But not having so wide a 


field wherein to exercise this peculiar 
talent, no one could cope with the gallant 
general, as will be seen by part of the fol- 
lowing outline : — 


£ s, d. 
For missing the '* appels," 2s. 6d. 

each, and permission to sign the 

books at your lodgings, yielding 

about £50 per month, for three years 1800 
Doctor's certificate, to avoid regula- 
tions, £10 per month, for five years . 600 
Sale of passports to go out of town; 

issued about 2000 in seven years, 

lo8ses,&c 250 

For going out of town on horse back, 

or in carriage, 100 at 5s • 25 

Permission to reside in the country, 

say average six for six years, at 10s. 

per month ..•• 216 

Tax on four clubs, £l 5s. per month 

each, for six years 860 O 

Races, exclusive of private robberies • • 180 O 
Permission for servants to return to 

Verdun, at £12 each, four a year for 

sixyears • ,.. 288 O 

Permission for ^^d^f^nus" to return to 

Verdun, from Valenciennes • 400 


Carried forward, •• • £4119 


Brought forward £4119 

Gambling-houses, £100 per month, for 

three years ••••••••••••• 3G00 

Difference between the franc and livre' 
tournois in Wirion's time £720 ; in 
Cour^elles's £240 960 

Permission for masters of vessels and 
oihsrs to return to Verdun, during 
seven years 420 O 

Stoppages of pay, for pretended dila- 
pidations 520 

Defraying expenses of re-capture when 

attempting escape 300 

Masters of merchantmen, per- 
mitted to reside in town, at 4s. 
each per month, part only col- 
lected £80 

Ditto, on another occasion, 500 at 

7s. M. each 187 


Commandant Conr^elles's wine, and 

other robberies, not mentioned . • . 1000 

Cour9elles's son, the jailor's, robberies . 150 

C!orporal Latreille's confession of £100, 
for two years 1000 

Marshal de Logis Bouill^, £150 per 
annum, for five years . 750 

lieutenant Massin, £100 per annum, for 

two years 200 

Carried forward •••• £18286 



Brought forward • . . £18286 O 

Licences for rarioas privilegeg 800 O 

laeatenant Demanget £150, for four 

years 600 O 

One«third of 1800 prisoners at Valen* 

dennes were permitted to work in 

town, on paying 10 soU a-day for 

one year, producing £8912 : 10s. ; 

then 5 sob for one year £1965 : 5s. . 5868 15 

£20054 15 
Calculating the robberies at the ten 
other depdts, each only at one-twen- 
tieth of that sum, amounts to ... . 10027 7 6 

£80082 2 6 

Nor need the reader be sceptical upon 
this enormous amount : a highly esteemed 
friend has submitted my calculation of the 
separate items to a very distinguished offi- 
cer, whose situation rendered him fully 
competent to judge; his opinion is, that 
it is rather under, than over, the mark; 
though such calculations, from their very 
nature, cannot be strictly accurate. 

I could, however, adduce a multitude of 
facts in corroboration of their probable 
accuracy, but when the fate of those in 


authority over the prisoners i^ known, I 
trust all doubt on the subject will vanish. 
But the following circumstance may first 
be noticed, as a specimen of the gallant 
general's delicacy. 

After Sir Jahleel had been visiting the 
depdte, General Wirion told him, that, as 
an additional duty had devolved upon the 
gendarmes, in consequence of one of their 
companions being on duty with him, he 
(the general) would be glad if Sir Jahleel 
would make them a present ; he requested 
time to consider it, and soon after returned, 
armed with a golden " douceur f when he 
told the general, that as he had travelled 
officially, at the expense cf his own govern- 
ment, he must request a receipt as a vouch- 
er for this portion of his account. The 
general eyed him with a most satanic grin, 
and replied, that in consideration of the 
kindness he had shown to his attendant 
gendarme, he would not allow him to re* 
ceive any thing. 

I do not intend to sully these pages 
with a recital of the separate atrocities 
of these Verdun worthies : I shall briefly 

£ 2 


insert a list of those who committed 
suicide, or were exposed by martial jus- 
tice ; in the hope their fate may prove 
a warning to future commandants, and a 
safeguard to the unfortunate. 

WiBioir-^A general, and inspector-general of the 
Imperial gendarmerie, officer of the legion of 
honour, and commander-in-chief of the 
prisoners of war ; shot himself. 

C0UB9ELLES — ^Colonel and commandant of Verdun, 
and of the department of the Meuse, officer 
of the legion of honour ; dismissed from the 

Dem ANGST — ^Lieutenant of gendarmerie, member of 
the legion of honour; dismissed frwn, the 

Massin — ^lieutenant of gendarmerie, member of the 
legion of honour ; shot himself. 

BouiLLE — Mar6chal de logis of gendarmerie, pay- 
master^ and member of the legion of honour ; 
reduced to the ranks. 

Name Fobgotten — ^Lieutenant of gendarmerie at 
Sarre Louis ; shot himself • 

Name Unknown — ^A colonel at Montmedy, mem- 
ber of the legion of honour ; condemned to the 

MuNDEYELLABS— Captain in the army, aide-de- 
camp to General Wirion, member of the 
legion of honour ; dismissed- the army. 


Namb Forgotten— Aide-de-camp to General Wi* 
rion, member of the legion of honour ; dis» 
missed the army. 
Besides these honomrable members so disgraced, 
many others narrowly escaped, and a long list of in- 
significant delinquents, might be added, whose rogueries 
are not comprised in the foregoing calculations. 

Having thus noticed some of the most 
notorious characters, most of whom had 
sprung: from the revolution, I now turn 
from thisrpainful detail, to bring forth cha- 
racters, : as truly honourable as generoui^, 
whose actions indicated the strictest sense 
of duty, united with feelings, the moat 
refined, and which could only flow from 
innate benevolence — from a " veritable 
grandeur d'&me:" such indeed were the 
noble minded De BeauchSne, De Meulan, 
Du C]!*oix Aubert, and a few others ; this 
I do with the greater satisfaction, not only 
because the. system they adopted proved 
the national feeling of the prisoners to 
have been in accordance with those v^ie- 
rated soldiers, but also to show, how very 
little th(5 then French ministers were capa- 
ble of appreciating true greatness ; or why. 


did the government refuse permission to 
the prisoners, to erect a monument to the 
memory of the Baron de BeauchSne. For 
this purpose they had entered into a sub- 
scription, little suspecting that jealousy 
and hatred would have been carried to 
such lengths, as to have frustrated a design 
which would have been a proud memorial 
of the pre-eminent virtues of the individual, 
and equally demonstrative of the magna- 
nimity of both nations. It may not be im- 
proper here to add, that this baron was 
said to be the very grenadier who warded 
off the the dagger aimed at Buonaparte, 
by one of the council of five hundred, 
when he entered the hall of St, Cloud's, 
to dissolve that as^mbly. It was to this 
circumstance, that he was indebted for his 
barony, and well did he deserve it. Some 
of these events, however, occurred after my 
time, therefore cannot be said to belong to 
this ^^ Narrative ;" but as they may not ap- 
pear altc^ther undeserving of notice, the 
reader I trust, will pardon the digression, 
and return with me to the period of Wirion's 


Notwithstanding that during the first 
five years of the war, escapes had fre- 
quently taken place, yet of about one thou- 
sand prisoners, I recollect but three who 
really violated parole, and it would have 
been well for British honour, had an ex- 
change taken place at that period ; but as 
I would be the last to cast a stone at those 
who differed from me in opinion, I shall 
merely observe, that Buonaparte caused 
an indiscriminate list of all who escaped, 
to be published, representing them as 
having broken parole, in which list I had 
the honour to be included; but of the 
truth or falsity of this accusation, I leave 
the reader to judge by the sequel. 

With respect to the personal treatment 
of the prisoners in Verdun (setting aside 
extortion), every candid mind will confess 
that it was generally apportioned to indivi- 
dual desert, and if occasional acts of op- 
pression occurred, they were exceptions 
emanating from the petty malice of vulgar 
minds, unaccustomed to exercise authority, 
rather than the result of systematic dis- 


cipline, of which the foUowiQg fact^ is an 
evidence : — 

Four of us were rambling about the 
country, with a pointer and silken net, 
catching quails, when the gun was fired. 
On Our return, in passing through the vil- 
lage of Tierville, we were surprised by 
two gendarmes, one of whom instantly dis- 
mounted, and seized me, uttering the most 
blasphemous epithets ; he tied my elbows 
behind me, then slipping a noose round my 
bare neck, triced me up to the holsters of 
his saddle, remounted, and returned with 
his prize to town, exulting in his cowardly 
triumph, and pouring forth voUies of vul- 
gar abuse, every nqw and then tightening 
the cord, so as to keep me trotting upon 
the very extremity of the toes, to obtain 
relief, then again loosening it, as occa- 
sional guttural symptoms of strangulation 
seemed to indicate necessity. Vain would 
be the attempt to convey an adequate idea 
of the impotent rage then boiling within 
me, at the insult oiSlered to my juvenile dig- 
nity, whilst ^ determined haughtiness dis- 

dained to betray the slightest indication of 
submission or complaint. My companions 
were secured round the middle, with the 
utmost Tioleuce and brutality ; thus we 
were conducted to town, and when deli- 
vered over to the proper authorities, and 
interrogated, were released. The next 
morning, I waited on the senior officer, 
Captain Woodruff, who, with a prompti- 
tude which did honour to his feelings, and 
indignation worthy of a British officer, im- 
mediately represented the fact to General 
Wirion, who assured him the gendarmes 
should be ordered into solitary confine- 

It was known that General Wirion had 
made repeated applications to the minister 
of war, to iremove the depdt to Mentz ; but 
not succeeding, he contented himself with 
reducing it, as bdng the only way in which 
he could vent his spleen against the inha- 
bitants, with whom he had long been, at 
variance. In furtherance of these views, 
he was on the watch to prevent an accu- 
mulation of prisoners, and no longer al- 
lowed any, newly arrived, to remain in the 


toWD, except tho8e» who from their rank, 
were entitled to it* He also now punished 
most oflfences, with , banishment to Bitche, 
or other dep6ts ; although it would at first 
sight appear, that he was thereby depriving 
himself of new subjects, upon whom he 
could more easily practice his ^' escro- 
queries/' yet the return to head-quarters 
always furnished an excuse for exacting 
fifty crowns, under pretence of defiaying 
the expenses of escort. Things w^« going 
on in this manner, when a circumstance 
occurred, which gave a turn to our des- 
tiny, and eventually caused our removal 
from this scene of dissipation, extortion, 
roguery, and vice. In July, 1808, three 
midshipmen, (I blush to state it,) were 
taken in the very act of violating parole : 
this afforded Wirion an opportunity of re- 
presenting the whole class, to the minister 
of war, as contumacious and refi*actory. 
He further assured his Excellency, diat 
nothing but extreme rigour and close con- 
finement, could insure the persons of tiiiese 
'* tres mauvais sujets,'' and that Verdun 
was inadequate to their security* To the 


joy of some few, besides the peculating 
general, the resnlt was an order for the 
whole class to be removed, and on tiie 7th 
of August, on going to the afternoon 
^^ appel," we were arrested, to the number 
of one hundred and forty-two, and sent to 
the citadel. Although we felt somewhat 
disconcerted at this sudden and unexpect- 
ed moTem^it, the natives were still more 
alarmed. It was natural to suppose, that 
among so large a number, there were some 
few in arrears with the ** bourgoiserie," who 
flocked to the gates of the citadel to ob- 
tain^ if possible, payment, or some secu- 
rity ; and it is difficult to say, whether diey 
were more enraged against the general, or 
against the poor unfortunate mids, who 
were deprived of all means of making any 
arrangements, by an order of non-inter- 
course, whidi was strictly enforced. 

Hie previous occurrence of similar events, 
though on a minor scale as to numbers, 
warned us to prepare for an early depart 
ture, but not a word to that eflect escaped 
the commanding-officw, until late at night 
Bemdes the usual inmates of St. Vannes, 


that convent was now crammed with such 
motley groups of gamblers quarrelling, 
^ debtors exulting, and Romeos despairing, 
that the scene was truly entertaining ; par- 
ticularly to those who, having nothing to 
r^ret, were looking forward for an op- 
portunity of proving, that parole, alone 
was the bond which had enchained them 
for so many years. We were all indiscri- 
minately huddled together in the different 
apartments of the convent, upon the planks, 
for the night, ^and at dawn of day, the 
drum summoned us to muster. All those 


who were to depart, were drawn up in 
two ranks ; one of seventy-three, destined 
for Valenciennes and Givet, the other of 
sixty-nine, (most of whom were masters of 
merchant vessels), destined for Sarre Louis 
and other depdts, to the eastward. The 
northern expedition being ready, we were 
placed two by two, upon bundles of straw, 
in five wagons, and set out, escorted by 
the greater part of the horse gendarmerie 
of the districtji aided by infantry. No 
sooner had we cleared the suburbs, than 
they assumed a more regular order ; four 


horse gendarmes forming the Tan, and four 
the rear-guard; one oh each side of every 
waggon, and twenty foot soldiers in ' files, 
with others in. each carriage, made up the 
escort, the commander bringing up the 
rear upon his black charger. Whenever 
the road passed by a wood, which fre- 
quently occurred, we halted, to give the 
infantry time to occupy its skirts; two 
gendarmes on each side were posted mid- 
way, whilst the rest occasionally displayed 
their pistols, somewhat ostentatiously, by 
way of intimidation. I have been thus mi- 
nute in detailing the strength and manner 
of the escort, not only to contrast it with 
similar detachments in England, where 
twice the number of French prisoners^ with 
infinitely greater facilities of escape, might 
be safely entrusted to the care of a Ser- 
jeant's guard ; but also to show how fully 
persuaded Wirion was, that some of us 
would make the attempt. My most in- 
timate friend and brother mid, Moyses, 
was of the party, and we had agreed to 
avail ourselves of the first opportunity to 
decamp; this, however, appeared almost 

hopeless, if there should prove do relax- 
ation in the system they had adopted. la 
the evening, we arrived at Stenay, having 
travelled aboat twenty miles. Upon halt* 
ing, we were mustered in two divisions, 
and shut up in two public-houses; one 
division, in the lower part of ^ the town, to 
which the younger and least suspicious 
were conducted ; the other, in a building 
by itself on the road-side ; particular care 
was taken to surround both houses, be* 
sides placing sentinels at the doors, and in 
the rooms, so that nothing could be done 
without considerable danger of discovery. 
Moyses and myself, nevertheless, continued 
to make several preparations ; by pretend*^ 
ing fatigue, we obtained leave to go to 
bed, and were alone for some time, al- 
though repeatedly visited by the gendarmes^ 
who, when dinn^ was announced, were 
kept in good humour, by being mvited to 
partake of it. We endeavoured to tempt 
them to a free use of the bottle, but French 
soldiers are not generally addicted to the 
destructive vice of drunkenness. Towards 
nine P.M. the party lay down on the floor 


to rest Moydes and I took our stations 
in a comer by the window, under which a 
sentinel was placed, whose turnings were 
to be watched about eleven, and when his 
back should be towards the window, We- 
therly, (a brother mid), was to lower us 
down with towels tied t(^ether; if dis- 
covered, the sentinel was to be instantly 
knocked down ; we were to make for the 
river, distant only a few hundred yards^ 
swim across, and gain the woods : in case 
of success thus far, it was our intention to 
have proceeded to those in the vicinity of 
Verdun, and there wait the assistance of a 
friend, who was to furnish us with the ne^ 
cessaries for travelling through Germany, 
to the gulph of Venice. 

About t^i, the guard was relieved, and 
we were ordered into a large lighted room, 
th^e to lie on the floor, with the gen- 
darmes forming nearly a circle around us, 
the windows barred in, and doors bolted. 
This unexpected precaution totally firus* 
trated our plans ; at day light we were 
again assembled in the waggons, and con- 
tMMied our jouniey, escorted as before. 


Nothing particular attracted pur attention, 
our thoughts being chiefly occupied in me- 
ditating plans of escape, as circumstances 
might favour. 

^' Hope springs eternal in the human breast/' 

And so actively alive were we to every 
dawn which beamed in the imagination, 
that each wood, each copse, which rose 
to view as we advanced, we fancied in- 
vited us to its protection. It was our inten- 
tion to take the first opportunity, in pass- 
ing a woody through which our road some- 
times led, to leap from the waggon, and 
trust to our heels, and its shelter, for secu* 
rity. To this end, we had taken our sta- 
tion in the front of one, with our knapsacks 
(containing a few articles necessary for a 
march,) on our backs. On approaching a 
wood, a gendarme observed, with a very 
significant expression of countenance : — 
" Messieurs, il me semble que vous vous 
trouverez plus k votre aise sans I'havresac 
au dos." It ^as evident from this obser- 
vation, that our purpose was suspected, 
and that we were narrowly watched. On 


gaining a hill, we gradually opened upon 
a rich plain, watered by the Meuse, on 
the borders of which, stands the town of 
Sedan, having a citadel, with ramparts in 
a most dilapidated state, which we viewed 
with secret pleasure, for there appeared 
but little difficulty in getting clear of the 
town, if we could but evade the vigi- 
lance of the guard, and understand- 
ing, that here our quarters for the night 
had been ordered, we were the more 
elated. Our march into the town was at- 
tended by a numerous rabble of ragged 
wonderers, and instead of being conducted 
to prison, as was expected, we were halted 
at a public-house; on reconnoitring the 
premises, a closet window was discovered, 
through which we could get upon the roof, 
and by the aid of a line, let ourselves down 
into the river, and swim over. Scarcely 
were our arrangements made, when we 
were surprised by the word to muster, 
again ordered into the waggons, and pro- 
ceeded on our journey. We were not, how- 
ever, less firm in the determination to avail 
ourselves of the first opportunity of ma- 


kiDg suQi attempt at liberty ; but the catlike 
vigilance of the guard, seemed to render 
escape totally impracticable. On reaching 
Meziers, about eight P.M., we were re- 
ceived at the gates by a strong reinforce- 
(nent of foot soldiers, and but for the pre^ 
caution of forming double files on each 
side, might have had an opportunity of 
mingling with the mob assembled in t^e 
streets. They however lodged us safely in 
the prison, and when secured by bars and 
bolts, the jailor informed us the morrow 
would be a " jour de repos :" nothing <;puld 
be done that night ; some, in consideration 
of a " douceur," were permitted to occupy 
the jailor's private apartment. In the 
morning, we had the range of the prison, 
and discovered that the only way by which 
we could possibly escape, was by scaling 
the wall of the yard, which was about 
twenty feet in height ; this however could 
not be done without a ladder, a grapnel 
and line, or the assistance of three or four 
to stand against the wall upon each other's 
shoulders. Moyses and myself, were, ne- 
vertheless determined to run any risk» 


knowing we were to be separated the next 
day, and there being no one of our party 
in whom I had so much confidence as my 
friend ; indeed, I felt convinced, that if the 
night p^tssed without succ^s, I should be 
doomed to wander alone through dark and 
desdls^te tracts, in dreary woods, hunted 
by all, for. I was resolutely bent upon 
liberty. Parole had, hitherto, tended to 
reconcile: me to captivity, but being now 
deprived of that honourable confidence, and 
feeling my pride wounded, at the oppres* 
sive act of punishing the innocent for the 
guilty, no obstacle could avert my inten- 
tion of Anally executing, what I now feli 
a duty ; and it was cheering to find, that 
in th^Be fedings, my friend most cordially 
participated. His intense anxiety in watch- 
ing, . his firm and resolute demeanour, toge- 
ther with his readiness in finding a remedy 
for every, new obstacle as it arose, not only 
excited Jn each, new vigour, but evinced 
th^ ardour with which he would have 
rushed into every danger, if it afibrded but 
a hope of success. Having arranged our 
plaisrs ; in order to avoid whisperings it was 

F 2 . 


determined, that only one should be in- 
trusted with the secret, until the hour of 
trial ; then, if appearances augured well, 
others were to be requested to assist. In 
the afternoon we were mustered, and sepa- 
rated into two divisions, one bound to Va- 
lenciennes, the other to Givet. About 
nine, in order to reconnoitre, we obtained 
permission to go into the yard, whither we 
were attended by a guard, but finding 
there, two large dogs running- loose, escape 
was impossible. We felt severely the dis- 
appointment of this last hope of decamp- 
ing together. The jailor, in a jocose way, 
inquired if the dogs were asleep ; he was 
not, however, so austere, as some of his 
profeisision, for although he well knew the 
use of a map, he hesitated not to sell us 
one, apparently indifferent to our escape, 
provided it did not take place from his 
custody. We lay ourselves down to rest, 
encouraged by mutual consolation, when 
each felt determined, and hoped for the 
first opportunity of proving the sincerity 
of a friendship, formed and matured in 
adversity. In the morning the Givet divi- 


sion, being mustered in the waggons^ de- 
parted ; and I was separated from my 
friend. The party for Valenciennes soon 
after followed, with a reduced escort, who 
observed the usual precautions. Being now 
left to my own reflections, — without plung- 
ing headlong into extremes, I resolved, 
should a favourable opportunity ofier, upon 
following up the former plan — jumping out 
of the the waggon, and bolting into a wood ; 
but the unabated vigilance of the guard 
rendered it impossible. In the evening 
we arrived at Hirson, and the following 
day at Avesnes* Here I was permitted 
to go to the military hospital, under an 
escort, to visit some English seamen, who 
had been wounded in endeavouring to es- 
cape froni Arras, and gave them a sub- 
scription raised amongst ourselves. This 
day, the guard being relieved, we were en- 
trusted to the care of a " Mar^chal de 
logis," who, entertaining the most liberal 
opinions of the character of British officers, 
immediately placed us on parole, and took 
us to an inn, where we slept. In the 
morning he selected eight, of whom I was 


one, and gave us permission to take 
the diligence, to Valenciennes ; adding — 
" Gentlemen, I rely upon your honour," 
Now, severity would have been more ac- 
ceptable than this act of politic kindness ; 
but to have declined the offer, would have 
exposed my intentions, and dravm upon 
me the accumulated vigilance of the whole 
guard. This method evinced the impolicy 
of harsh measures, and insured the safety 
of all those worth securing ; for the germ 
of honour buds in the spriug of our days ; 
and if, at that epoch, an officer violates her 
principles, it were better for hiia that he 
were never after intrusted with the per- 
formance of any act, in which his own im- 
mediate inter^t might clash with hisi 
country's honour. We set out in the di- 
ligence, with one gendarme, the mere for- 
mality of a guard, and passing through a 
village met four English seamen^ vrith 
scarcely a rag to cover them, strongly 
guarded, chained to each other by the 
neck, and handcuffed. They, told us, that 
having escaped from Arras, they had gained 
the coast, seized a vessel, and put to sea. 


After beating about for several days in a 
gale of wind, and splitting all their sails, 
they were blown back, wrecked on the 
coast, and, on being retaken, were shame- 
fully treated by the gendarmes. We made 
a subscription for them, and the poor fel- 
lows with hearts of oak, not to be subdued, 
gave us three cheers, adding — " Never 
mind, gentlemen, we'll catch 'em again 
at Trafalgar, some of these days." Pass- 
ing through Quesnoy and Landrecy, we 
arrived at Valenciennes, about three P. M . 
August the 17th, 1808. Being soon after 
joined by the rest of the party, we were 
conducted with great form to the citadel ; 
there to take up our abode with' about 
fourteen hundred men, who occupied the 
barracks. A small house, divided into six 
apartments, each containing three or four 
beds, was, however, appropriated to the 
mids ; here it was intended we should exist 
during the war, and no distinction what- 
ever was to be made between us " tres 
mauvais sujets," and the seamen, except 
the permission of walking on the rampart 
fronting the town. I was not long in 


this enviable situation, before I b^an to 
reconnoitre, in order to form plans of es- 
cape. That part of the citadel in which 
the men were allowed to walk, and which 
, might be termed their playground, occu- 
pied about an acre ; in this confined spot 
fourteen hundred men were mustered, 
three times a day, and no one permitted 
to go out, but under escort* 

On the arrival of the mids, the number 
of sentinels was considerably augmented, 
and strict orders issued to' watch them. 
From the citadel, escape appeared impos- 
sible, it being surrounded with ditches, 
containing about six feet of mud, on the 
surface of which was not more than a foot 
of water : so that swimming was deemed 

* It had been the custom for aboat two years, fa 
aUow one-third of the whole, to go into the town to 
work, on condition of each paying ten sols per day to 
the commandant. Fearing this disgraceful practice 
might some time be exposed, he reduced it one half, 
till, at length, it was entirely abolished by the pre- 
tended discovery of the government, who superseded 
him in this lucrative command, after having permitted 
him to fill his coffers with nearly seven thousand 



impracticable. In this part of the fortress, 
which the prisoners termed the lower cita- 
del, there are two gates — ^the northern, lead- 
ing to the upper citadel, and the southern, 
to the town : at . each, was a strong guard. 
Through the western rampart is a sally- 
port, which leads into, an outwork, thence 
into a garden, forming a triangle of about 
half an acre, at the extreme point of which, 
the Escant branches off in two streams, 
the canal passing between the citadel and 
ravelin. Through this sally-port it was 
my intention to make an attempt, that ap- 
pearing the weakest point. I meant to 
swim across the river, and take my clothes 
in an umbrella prepared for the occasion. 
I once tried the efficacy of this plan before 
many people at Verdun, which drew upon 
me the displeasure of the police, attended 
by an order not to repeat my experiments. 
Some few days elapsed before I ventured 
to communicate my intentions to any one, 
when I broached the subject to a brother 
mid; named Ricketts, who readily entered 
into my views, and was willing to assist me 


in any way, but from the moBt honourable 
. motives, declined joining. From the dif- 
ficulty of getting out of the fort witl)Out 
aid,' I hesitated at going alone, and men- 
tioned it to a messmate, named Cadell, 
who also declined ; I then sounded, several 
other midshipmen without success. In 
this state of suspense, day after day elapsed, 
till the 4th of September, when I applied 
to one whose name was Hunter, he ap- 
proved of my plans, and appeared gratified 
that I had selected hivtx as a companion. 
Shortly after, it was agreed, that we should 
start on the 1 4tfa, intending, by means of 
picklocks^ to get through the sally-port ; 
and I was the more sanguine, from the cir- 
cumstance of there being no sentinel at 
that door. At length, the 14th arrived) 
every thing wearing a favourable aspect, 
the hour of ten was appointed for the at- 
tempt. About four P.M. Hunter surprised 
me, by signifying his determination to post- 
pone it until the spring, as, from the season 
of the year, he foresaw innumerable diffi- 
culties, and deemed success impossible. 


In this distress, I became almost frantic, 
fof from so untimely and unexpected a se-. 
cession, I doubted in whom to confide. 

My brother officers getting intimation of 
my intentions, whispered it about from one 
to the other, till it became a topic of ge* 
neral conversation; at length, it reached 
the ears of the police, and, in consequence 
of this, I was so closely watched, that all 
tuy prospects, for the present, were blasted. 
The only way to remove these suspicions, 
was perfect tranquillity for some time ; and 
to divert the attention of the public, I sent , 
to Verdun for my clothes and dogs, which 
I had left there, to avoid incumbrance <m 
the road to Valenciennes. I shc^uld iiot 
neglect to mention, that a sentinel was 
now placed at the before-mentioned sally- 
port, and stricter orders issued throughout 
the depdt. The midshipmen b^an to ma« 
nifest much impatience at the continuance 
of their " durance vile,*' and, after several 
fruitless applications to the commandant, 
drew up a letter to the minister of war, re- 
questing restoration to parole: one sen- 
tence of which insured a flat denial, as it 


plainly intimated that a refusal would be 
attended with escape ; it ran to this effect — 
*' Such is the character of the British offi- 
cer, that his * parole d' honneur' will bet- 
ter secure his person, than locksy bolts, and 
fortresses." A few days after, I was de- 
lighted to learn, that the minister's answer 
was confined to a simple negative. On the 
arrival of my clothes and dogs, from Verdun, 
I pretended to think of little else, except 
the study of Spanish; and these being 
the usual subjects of my conversation, the 
general suspicion gradually subsided^ till no 
one but Ricketts and Cadell entertained an 
idea of the many schemes I was plotting 
with a view to departure. I kept up a 
correspondence, per post, with my friend 
Moyses, and several others, in Verdun, all 
of whom were instructed to declaim against 
escape, as being extremely dangerous, and 
disapproved of by the senior officers ; tiiis 
I did, because all our letters were opened, 
and it tended to deceive the police. It 
was my wish, that Moyses should make 
interest to be sent to Valenciennes ; such 
removals being sometimes effected through 


the application of our own officers. Find- 
ing there was no probability of a junction, 
and all suspicion being at length removed, 
I again commenced sounding those around 
me, when I found an opening to make a 
proposal to a brother mid, named Roch- 
fort; he came into it immediately, the 
strictest secresy was observed, and we de- 
termined to be seldom seen together, al- 
though the most perfect harmony and cor- 
diality prevailed between us, and, I may 
add, an implicit confidence in mutual sup- 
port. He was well calculated for the ad- 
venture, as he was known to be a seaman, 
endowed with great bodily strength, and 
a still more admirable quality, firmness of 
mind ; my only fear was from an apprehen- 
sion of rashness, for to afibrd a chance of 
success in such an enterprize, it was of the 
utmost importance that courage should be 
tempered by prudence. With the assist- 
ance of Ricketts and Cadell, our prepa- 
rations were completed, and the 15th of 
October, was fixed for departure. I was 
the more anxious to carry our plans into 
execution, so soon as matured, because the 


CommandaDt, with unremitting diligence, 
was daily viBiting the citadel, and as fre- 
quently changing the posts of the sentinels, 
demanding a corresponding change on our 
part, and issuing stricter regulations for 
the security of the prisoners ; at length, it 
was ordered, that any one, who should be 
seen in the night, without a lantern, whe- 
ther English or Frenchr should be in- 
stantly fired at, and, in the event of a gen- 
darme's light being accidentally extin- 
guished, while visiting the sentinels, which 
was ^one every half hour, he was to be 
constantly repeating — " Gendarme without 
light," until he reached the guard room. 
Besides these precautions, there were rcr 
gulai*. patroles ; the difficulty and daugei^of 
efiLc^pe had, therefore, considerably in- 
q^f Qd, and it became necessary, that Qur. 
caution should keep pace with their vigi- 
lance, Tliere still being a sentinel s^t th@ 
^^ly^port, my 'first plan was changed to 
^tpf gettiug into the upper citftddl^ 
^hicb could only be effected by crecfwg 
up/W; the parapet above the north. gs^^ 
letting ourselves down upon the bridge, 


over the canal, and passing through the 
ravelin ; but being unacquainted with those 
parts of the fortification, we intended to 
risk all, and trust to Providence for deli- 
verance. This plan, however, did not 
bear the stamp of prudence, but what could 
we do better? it, was, in fact, our only re- 
source. We? discussed the subject, with 
the utmost deliberation, and were cen* 
vinced, that over the north gate, was the 
pnly point practicable, although a sentry- 
box, stood within ten paces of it. These 
difficulties, however., did not alter our de- 
termination, but only, exqited additional 
enei^y ; we persuaded ourselves, that the 
very precautions taken, would ultimately 
facilitate our elopement, for the gendarmes, 
judging, from the number of night sentinels, 
that we should, deem it impossible, would^ 
in the course of time, be so lulled into 
security, as to relax, and become more 
careles)3 than if they were less numerous. 
By the friendly aid of a " d6t6nu,'^ residing 
in^etown, we procured provisions, and a 
niAp of the northern department, and se- 
yftfal othar necessaries, almost indispen- 


sable on such an expedition. The only 
thing now wanting was rope, which we 
obtained by purchasing skipping lines of 
the boys, this being a general amusement 
amongst them at this season ; the bringing 
such small quantities openly into the cita- 
del, excited no suspicion^ and, in order to 
ascertain the requisite length, I counted 
the courses of bricks, in the pillars in the 
inner part of the north gate ; allowing four 
to a foot, and five feet to the brick work, 
made the height about forty-five feet. Every 
thing being ready, and the day arrived, 
without any one entertaining the slightest 
suspicion, I was so fully persuaded of 
being in England in a few days, that I 
strutted about the citadel, smiling at every 
self-sufficient gendarme I met, half inclined 
to say, jocosely — " Adieu ;" for, notwith- 
standing the multiplied difficulties, mu- 
tual confidence made us not only look 
upon them as trifles, but almost created a 
wish they were still greater, that the ho- 
nour of surmounting them might be pro- 
portionably conspicuous, and thereby the 
astonishment and disappointment of the 



watchful commandant be the more excited ; 
for he would rather have lost ten sea- 
men, than one of those insolent midshipmen. 
Ricketts, viewing with more coolness, the 
chances of failure and success, in all their 
bearings, and being aware that we were still 
ignorant of the difficulties to be encounter- 
ed, in our progress to the upper citadel, did 
not appear so sanguine as ourselves. These 
difficulties, however, scarcely arrested our 
attention; for we were so wrapped up in 
the enchanting idea of sweet liberty, the 
glorious prospect of proving the inefficacy 
of ** locks^ holts, and fortresses,'^ and the 
still stronger incentive of again wearing 
arms in the service of our country, that no 
obstacle could damp our ardour. About 
five P.M. on the day fixed for our de- 
parture, I was walking with Ricketts, and 
discussing the proposed plans, which were 
then ripe for execution, when Cadell came 
up, and told us that Rochfort had just been 
seized with headache. and fever, so violent as 
to require his being immediately put to bed. 
This I could not credit, until made an eye 
witness of the fact. Struck with astonish- 



ment, I gazed on the sufferer, and, scarcely 
able to ask a question, stole into the yard, 
absorbed in thought and perplexity ; not 
cherishing the faintest hope of finding ano- 
ther in the citadel to join with us. The 
fact was, that from my having >been before 
suspected, and publicly denounced, and 
likewise from iny being aware of the ex- 
tent to which '^ espionage " was practised 
in the fort, I was backward in inlsfodac^g^ 
the subject to several, who have since 
proved by their ^conduct that they would 
rea«li]y have accompanied me. I wandered 
about ifor same time, reflecting on «tbis ex- 
traordinary ^oocurrence^ little suspicious of 
what was afterwards developed, tiiart, from 
our total ignoranoe of the impediments in 
passing into the upper citadel, failure, smd 
its attelidantx^onsequenees, must have "beext 
the result of trial at tbi^ time. My mind, 
however, was »ot to be diverted iix)m flie 
^ject in view, aed, no sooner had I mused 
mys^f ^from.the effisct *of this dishearten*^ 
iag e^eatf than I bi^an to meditate new 
schemes, for I ^ was resolved on the attempt, 
^^^eoirte qui ooute ;" but .hesitated, whe^er 


to await Rochfort's reccjvery, or to look out 
for another companion. Day after day 
passed in this state of suspense ; when find* 
ing no amendment in his health, he was 
liberal enough to advise my seeking a help- 
mate amongst the seamen. He became so 
reduced by his illness, that even, if he did 
recover, he dare not risk exposure to night 
chills, for a considerable time; it was, 
therefore, with extreme reluct^ice, I aban- 
doned the hope .of his company. I then 
went to several of the most steady of the 
quarter-masters, and petty officers of that 
class, without success. Whether they 
doubted the possibility <^ escape, or were 
deterred by the recollection of the bar- 
barous murders at Bitche, I cannot say ; 
£cH* it was known, that when the comman- 
dant of that place had gained intimation of 
an intaided attempt, he suffered the fugi- 
tives to reach a certain point, where the 
gendarmes were concealed, ready to rush 
in, and murder them. Two sailors, named 
Marshall and Cox, fell victims to this re- 
fined system of republican discipline. A 



somewhat similar act of cold blooded atro- 
city, afterwards occurred at Givet, in the 
person of Hayward, a midshipman : this 
gallant fellow, with his friend. Gale, had 
broken out of prison, in the face of day, 
and fled into the country ; unfortunately, 
they were discovered, and the alarm given ; 
two horse gendarmes immediately pursued, 
and overtook them in an open field. On 
their approach, Hayward, being unarmed, 
and seeing escape impossible, stood still, 
extending his hands, and exclaimed — " Je 
me rends :" but this was too favourable an 
opportunity to be neglected, for the savage 
gratification of shedding human blood. 
Neither the defenceless state of the indi- 
vidual, nor' his prompt surrender could 
avert these merciless miscreants, from 
plunging their swords into his manly chest, 
and mangling the body in a horrible man- 
ner. It was afterwards taken into the 
prison-yard, stripped naked, and exposed 
to the view of the prisoner^, for the pur- 
pose of intimidating others from the like 
attempt. Gale gave himself up at the same 


time; and, although he received several 
severe wounds, they did not prove mortal.* 
On the 21st of October, being the anni- 
versary of the battle of Trafalgar, almost 
every window in the citadel was illumi- 
nated, and several transparencies were ex- 
hibited in honour of that glorious victory. 
The repeated and almost incessant cheer- 
ing of the prisoners, continued for nearly 
two hours ; many of the inhabitants of the 
town, obtained leave to visit the citadel, 
and appeared to join in the sport with all 
their characteristic frivolity* About this 
time, a club was formed in the midship- 
men's quarters, which its convivial mem- 
bers designated by the title of " Union." 
I was invited to become a member, but, as 
the nature of its amusements did not ac- 
cord with my habits, it was not until about 
the 26th of October, that I could be pre- 
vailed on to join it, and then only with a 

• It will scarcely be credited, that the commandant 
gave the perpetrators of this courageous exploit, a pe- 
cuniary reward, with this observation : — *' I give you 
this, for haying killed one of them ; had you killed 
both, the reward would haye been doubled." 


Tjew of averting any suspicion that might 
otherwise arise, as to my meditated plans. 
One r^ulation imposed the penalty of 
drinking a tumbler of brandy, on the re- 
fusal to sing a song. As I could do nei- 
ther, the tide of disapprobation was flow- 
ing against me, when, on condition of the 
remission of my penalty, I engaged, at the 
following meeting, to sing one that no one 
had ever heard; that day arrived, my 
poetical, as well as vocal, talents were 
brought into action, and exerted upon the 
prevailing foibles of every one present. 
The song, which was the one alluded to 
in Miller's work, was received with " eclatj" 
and good humour, and ever after sung by 
the president, at the opening of the club^ 
so long as it existed. The following Sa- 
turday, I was again about to be fined^ 
when I repeated my former Engagements 
provided we should all be together. 

Having, for some time, vainly indulged 
the hope of finding a companion willing to 
share my fate, and the winter fast approach- 
ing, I became apprehensive of not being 
able to make the attempt before the ^n^ 


ftuing spring. In the beginning of Norem* 
bar, two sailors were spaiting in the yard, 
and so coei^inon was this amusement, that it 
attracted the notice of no one but a stu{»d 
conscript of a sentinel, who, fancying they 
were quarreUing, quitted his post, and 
comnienced a brutal attack cm them, with 
the butt end of his musket : thi» breach of 
military discipline, soon collected a mob, 
and the endearoufrs of the men to ward off 
the blows, gave them the appearance of act- 
ing offensively. The guard was called out, 
when the gendarmes, rushing through the 
miob, cut and slashed on all sides* White* 
burst, whom I mentioned in the early part 
of this '^ Narrative," and I, happening to 
be there at the time, roused with in^ 
dignation at such wanton barbarity, also 
pushed in, in the hope of preventing blood- 
shed. The Mari^chal de logis, observing 
us in the ^^ m616e," desired us to send the 
men to their rooms, wbe^^ lipon the ordev 
being given, immediately retired. Thia 
prompt obedience, bearing the appearang^e 
of generally acting under our influence, 
was, no doubt, the cause &l our being de- 


nounced, as the authors of the disturbance. 
We were, however, allowed to retire, 
whilst nine men, who were wounded, were 
seized as ringleaders ; some being put into 
the "cachot,'" and others sent to the hospital. 
The next morning, Whitehurst, and my- 
self, were arrested, and conducted to a se- 
parate place of confinement, upon the 
rampart, fronting the town. We were there 
locked up, with a sentinel at the door, 
without communication with any one, 
and ordered to be kept on bread and 
water. We were secretly informed, that 
the commandant had forwarded a report 
to the minister of war, representing White- 
burst and myself, as '^ chefs de complot ;" 
the punishment of which, by the ^' Code 
Napoleon," is death. Although this did 
not much trouble us, being conscious of 
the falsehood of the accusation, yet we 
judged it right, to lay before the com-* 
mandant, a firm and accurate relation of 
the facts, referring him to the Mar^chal de 
logis, for proof of our interference having 
prevented more bloodshed, and restored 
tranquillity. This respectful appeal to the 


justice of the commandant Du Croix Au-- 
bert, corroborated by the evidence of the 
M ar^chal de logis, succeeded in restoring 
us to our comrades^ and in inducing him 
to transmit a counter-statement to the mi- 
nister of war. I mention this circum- 
stance, because it produced a proposition 
on the part of Whitehurst, to attempt es- 
cape, so soon as we could make the neces- 
sary preparations. I readily acceded to his 
proposal ; and, although I knew that, from 
his inexperience in the management of small 
craft, his assistance could not be great, in 
the event of getting afloat ; I was perfectly 
convinced of his willingness and resolution. 
This consideration rendered it necessary, 
however, to seek a third person, and I sound- 
' ed five men, separately, in the course of the 
day; but, so prevalent was the belief of the 
impossibility of getting out of the fortress, 
except by bribery, that they all declined. 

In this difficulty, I consulted Ricketts, 
who proposed to introduce the subject 
again, to Hunter. I consented to accept 
him as a companion, provided we departed 
in a week ; this stipulation being conveyed 


to him, and owr prospects painted in glow- 
ing colours, he agreed to join us. From 
that moment^ he behaved with firmness 
and cwdiality: not an hoiur was lost in 
procuring every thing needful for the occa- 
sion; but before we could fix a day, we 
resolved to obtain some information, res- 
pecting the obstacles in our passage to the 
upper citadel, that bdng the oa\y way by 
which we could possibly escape. It was ne- 
cessary to be very cautious in this particu- 
lar, and many schemes were suggested. At 
length, hearing that that part of the fortifica- 
tions abounded in wild rabbits, it occurred 
to me, to ofier my greyhounds to one of the 
gendarmes, whenever he chose to make use 
of them. This I did, and the fellow men- 
tioned it to the Mar^chal de logis, who 
was equally pleased vnth the expectation 
of sport, for they verily believed, that such 
beautifol English dogs could kill every 
rabbit they saw. Shortly after, the gen- 
darme came, with the keys in his hand, for 
them; the Mark^hal de logis waiting at 
the gate. The dogs, however, had been 
taught to follow no one but their master. 


so that their refasing to go, afforded me a^ 
opportunity of making an offer to accom- 
pany them, which was immediately accept- 
ed. Whitehurst, Hunter, and two or three 
others, requested to go with us ; four other 
gendarmes were ordered to attend, and we 
went in a tolerably large party* We took 
different directions round the ramparts, 
kicking the grass, under pretence of look- 
ing for rabbits ; few were found, and none 
killed. But we succeeded in making our 
observation!^, and in about an hour, return- 
ed, fully satisfied of the practicability of 
escape^ though the difficulties we had to 
encounter were*— njcaling a wall, ascending 
the parapet unseen, escaping the obser- 
vation of three tiers of sentinels, and the 
patroles, descending tv^o ramparts, of about 
forty-five feet each, and forcing two large 
locks4 These were not more than we ex- 
pected) and we, therefoce, prepared accord* 
i^gly* On our return, we fixed the night of 
the* 15th of November, for the attempt. 
Through a friend in town, 1 got iron han- 
dles put to a pair of steel boot hooks, in- 
taiding to use them as picklocks. The 


only thing now wanting, was another rope, 
and as that belonging to the well in the 
midshipmen's yard, was (from decay) not 
trust- worthy ; in the night, we hacked 
several of the heart-yarns, so that the first 
time it was used in the morning, it broke. 
A subscription was made by the mids, and 
a new one applied for; by these means, 
we had, at command, about thirty-six feet, 
in addition to what our friends had before 
purchased of the boys. Every thing was 
now prepared ; the spirits and provisions 
in the knapsacks were concealed in the 
dog kennel. On the 14th, Whitehurst 
communicated the secret to a young mid, 
named Mansell, who immediately pro- 
posed to join, and my consent was re- 
quested ; but I strongly objected, upon the 
plea of his being incapable to endure the 
privations and hardships to which we 
might probably be exposed: by the per- 
suasion of Ricketts and Cadell, however, I 

At length, the day arrived which I had 
so ardently desired, and the feelings of de- 
light with which I hailed it, were such as 


allowed me to anticipate none but the 
happiest results. The thought of having 
lost so many years from the service of my 
country, during an active war, had fre- 
quently embittered hours which would 
otherwise have been cheerful and merry, 
and now proved a stimulant to perse- 
verance, exceeded only by that which 
arose from the desire I felt, to impress 
upon the minds of the Frenchmen, the in- 
efficacy of vigilance and severity, to en- 
chain a British officer, when compared 
with that milder, and more certain mode of 
securinghis person-confiding in his honour. 
As the sun declined, our excitement in- 
creased. Our plans had been conducted 
with profound secresy, only our most con- 
fidential friends entertaining the slightest 
suspicion of our intention. At the usual 
hour we retired to rest; at half-past 
eleven we arose, and, in preparation for 
our departure, went into the midship- 
men's little yard, unspliced the well-rope, 
and returned to the apartment. Desirous 
of bidding adieu to our messmates, the six 
who slept in the room were avi^akened. 


Oh seeing the manner in which we were 
equipped, the rope slung over the should^*, 
ttie knapsacks, the impl^nents, and the 
laugh each one was endeavouring to stifle, 
they were so confused, that they could not^ 
for the moment, comprehend why we were 
thus attired. When told that we intended 
being in England in ten days, they ex- 
claimed, ^' impossible ;" and argued against 
the attempt, as nothing better than the ^- 
feet of insanity, insisting, that we were ob- 
stinately running, with our eyes open, into 
the very mouth of destruction . But, as such 
remarks, if listened to, n^ght only have 
tesided to create indecision, we shook 
hands, and said, good night. When about 
to depart, C!adell observed, we had better 
wait a few minutes, as it was -then very 
star light, and nearly a. calm. His advice 
was attended to, -and we impatiently wait- 
ed the passing of a cloud, in the hope of 
its lAcreasing the obscurity ; but the clouds 
dispersed, the wind died away^ and nothing 
diiiturbed the silence of the night but the 
watch'calls ^of the sentinels, and the <>cca- 
sioual footstep of the patroles. This 


anxious state of euspaise continued until 
two o'clock, when we again rose to depart, 
but were prevented by the kind interference 
of our friends, who insisted on our wait- 
ing still a little longer, arguing, that as I 
had met with so many disap^pointments, 
and had so repeatedly avowed my intention 
to act prudently, we ought to wait, even 
till the morrow night, if necessary. " What 
folly," continued Ricketts, *' to blast all 
your prospects, by false notions of ho- 
nour;" but the idea of flinching at this 
crisis, was so repugnant to my feelidgs, 
and so wounding to my pride, that it was 
with the utmost Teluctance, I could con- 
sent to postpone the attempt another 
minute. A little calm and fdeliberate 
reflection, however, soon ccmvinced me of 
the propriety of his remarks, and of the 
pore source wbence they sprang, J also 
feit, &at our liberty ^nd lives being def- 
peBdanl upon my discretion, Ul behoved 
me not to allow ay judgment to be in- 
fluenced, by ihe atpinions of the illiberal 
and the iiotheaded, who, I fisaced, would 
attribute our delay to other -canaes, than 


the real one; however, that mattered little; 
patient and persevering, I anxiously watch- 
ed the stars, and, sensibly alive to every 
thing that could, for a moment, endanger 
the confidence reposed in me, by my com- 
panions, I heard their opinion; when, finding 
it to coincide with my own, and the clock 
now striking three, we agreed to postpone 
^he attempt, till the following night, and 
then start about eight P. M. ; all present, 
promised secresy; we replaced the well- 
rope, returned our knapsacks to the care 
of the greyhounds, and retired to bed. The 
next morning, nothing material occurred ; 
the movements of the preceding night were 

In the afternoon^ we amused ourselves 
with writing a letter to the commandant, 
in which we thanked him for his civilities, 
and assured him, that it was the rigid and 
disgraceful measures of the French govern- 
ment, which obliged us to prove the ineffi- 
cacy of " locks, bolts, and fortresses,'^ and, 
that, if he wished to detain British officers^ 
the most effectual method was to put them 
upon their " honour ;" for that alone was 


the boud virhich had eDchalned us for 
more than five years. This letter was 
left with Ricketts to be dropped ou the fol- 
lowing day near the " corps de garde." At 
half-past seven P. M., we assembled, 
armed with clasped knives, and each pro- 
vided with a paper of fine pepper, upon 
which we placed our chief dependance; 
for, in case of being closely attacked, we 
intended throwing a handful into the eyes 
of the assailants, and running away. The 
plan was^ that Hunter and myself were 
to depart first, fix the rope, and open the 
opposing doors; a quarter of an hojur 
afterwards, Whitehurst and Mansell were 
to follow :^ by these means we diminished 
the risk attendant on so large a body as 
four moving together, and secured the 
advantage of each depending more upon 
his own care; for if Hunter and myself were 
shot in the advance, the other two would 
remain in safety, and if, on the contrary, 
they were discovered, we hoped to have 
time, during the alarm, to gain the country. 
Our intentions were, to march to the sea 
side, and range the coast to Breskins, in 



the island of Gadsand, opposite Flushing ; 
and, if means of getting afloat were not 
founds before arriving at that place, we 
proposed to embark in the passage boat, 
for Flushing, and, about mid-channel, rise 
and seize the vessel. It was now blowing 
very fresh, and was so dark and cloudy, 
that not a star could be seen ; the leaves 
were falling in abundance, and as they 
were blown over the stones, kept up a 
constant rustling noise, which was par- 
ticularly favourable to the enterprize^ 
indeed, things wore so promising an ap- 
pearance, that we resolved to take leave of 
a few other of our brother officers : eight of 
them were accordingly sent for; to these I 
detailed our exact situation, the diificul- 
ties we had to contend with, and the 
means of surmounting them, reminded 
them of our letter to the commandant, of 
last month, and the glory of putting our 
threats into execution, in spite of his in- 
creased vigilance, read the one we had that 
afternoon written, and proposed, that any of 
them should follow 4;hat chose, but with 
this stipulation^ that they allowed four 


hours to elapse before they made the at- 
tempt. Upon which, it being a quarter 
past eight, Hunter and myself, with woollen 
socks over our shoes, that our footsteps 
might not be heard, and each having a rope, 
a small poker or a slake, and knapsack, 
took leave of our friends, and departed . We 
first went into the back yard, and, assisted 
by Rochfort, who was now^ convalescent, 
but not sufficiently strong to join the party, 
got over the wall, passed through the gar- 
den and palisades, crossed the road, and, 
climbed silently upon our hands and knees 
up the bank, at the back of the north 
guard room, lying perfectly still, as the 
sentinels approached, and as they receded^ 
again advancing, until we reached the 
parapet over the gateway leading to the 
upper citadel. 

Here the breast work over which we 
had to creep, was about five feet hi^, and 
fourteen thick, and, it being the highest part 
of the citadel, we were in danger of being 
seen by several sentinels below ; but, for- 
tunately, the cold bleak wind induced 
gome of them to take sheUer in their 



boxes* With the utmost precaution we 
crept upon the summit, and down the 
breast work towards the outer edge of the 
rampart, when the sentinel made his quar- 
ter-hourly cry of " Sentinelle prenez guarde 
k vons/' similar to our '* All's well ;" this, 
though it created for a moment rather an 
unpleasant sensation, convinced me that 
we had reached thus far unobserved. 

I then forced the poker into the earth, 
and, by rising, and falling with nearly my 
whole weight hammered it down with my 
chest; about two feet behind, I did the 
same with the stake, fastening a small line 
from the upper part of the poker to the 
lower part of the stake : this done, we 
made the well-rope secure round the 
poker, and gently let it down through one 
of the grooves in the rampart, which re- 
ceives a beam of the draw-bridge when 
up. I then cautiously descended this half 
chimney, as it were, by the rope ; when I 
had reached about two thirds of the way 
down, part of a brick fell, struck against 
the side, and rfe-bounded against my chest, 
thill I luckily caught between my knees. 

ar— . 


aud carried down without noise. — The 
following sketch will render our proceed- 
ings more intelligible : 

I crossed the bridge, and waited for 
Hunter, who descended with equal care 
and silence. We then entered the rave- 
lin, proceeded through the arched pai^ 
sage which forms an obtuse angle, with a 
massive door leading to the upper citadel^ 
and, with my picklock, endeavoared to 


open it; but not finding the bolt yield 
with gentle pressure, I added the other 
hand, and gradually increased the force 
until I exerted my whole strength, when 
suddenly something broke. I theu tried 
to file the catch of the bolt, but that being 
cast iron, the file made no impression; 
we then endeavoured to cut away the stone 
in the wall which receives the bolt, but 
that was fortified with a bar of iron, so 
that that was impracticable ; the picklocks 
were again applied, but with no better 
success ; it now appeared complete check 
mate; and, as the last resource, it was 
proposed to return to the bridge, slip 
down the piles, and float along the canal 
on our backs, there being too little water 
to swim, and too much mud to ford it. 
Hunter then suggested the getting up the 
rope again, and attempting some other 
part of the fortress. In the midst of our 
consultation, it occurred to me, that it 
would be possible to undermine the gate : 
this plan was no sooner proposed than 
commenced, but having no other imple- 
menU than our pocket knives, some time 



elapsed before we could indulge any 
reasonable hopes of success; the pave- . 
ment stones under the door, were about 
ten inches square, and so closely bound 
together, that it was a most difficult, and 
very tedious process. About a quarter of 
an hour had been thus employed, when we 
were alarmed by a sudden noise, similar 
to the distant report of a gun, echoing in 
tremulous reverberations through the arch* 
ed passage, and, as the sound became 
fainter, it resembled the cautious opening of 
the great gate, creating a belief that we 
were discovered. We jumped up, drew 
back towards the bridge, intending, if pos- 
sible, to steal past the gens d'armes, and slip 
down the piles into the canal, but the 
noise subsiding, we stood still, fancying we ^ 
heard the footsteps of a b(>dy of men. The 
recollection of the barbarous murders at 
Bitche, on a similar occasion, instantly 
presented itself to my sensitive imagina^ 
tkm; it is impossible to describe the con- 
flicting sensations which rushed upon my 
mind during this awful pause: fully im- 
presMd with the conviction of discovery, 


and of falling immediate victims to the 
merciless rage of ferocious blood-hounds, 
I stood and listened, with my knife in 
savage grasp, waiting the dreadful issue, 
when suddenly I felt a glow flush through 
my veins, which hurried me on with the 
desperate determination to succeed or 
make a sacrifice of life in the attempt. 
We had scarcely reached the turning, 
when footsteps were again heard ; and, in 
a whispering tone, " Boys," this welcome 
sound created so sudden a transition from 
desperation to serenity, from despair to 
a pleasing conviction of success, that in an 
instant, all was hope and joy. Reinforced 
by our two friends, we again returned to 
our work of mining, with as much cheer- 
fulness and confidence as though already 
embarked for England. They told us the 
noise was occasioned by the fall of a knap- 
sack, which Mansell, unable to carry 
down the rope, had given to Whitehurst, 
from whom it slipped, and falling upon 
a hollow sounding bridge, between two 
lofty ramparts, echoed through the arch- 
ed passage with sufficient effect to ex- 


cite alarm. Whitehurst, with much pre- 
sence of mind, stood perfectly still when 
he landed on the bridge, and heard the 
sentinel walk up to the door on the inside, 
and stand still also; at this time, they 
were not more than four feet from each 
other, and, had the sentinel stood listening a 
minute longer, he must have heard Mansell 
land. Three of us continued mining until 
half-past ten, when , the first stone was 
raised, and in twenty minutes the second ; 
about eleven, the hole was large enough to 
allow us to creep under the door; the draw- 
bridge was up ; there was, however, suffici- 
ent space between it and the door, to allow 
us to climb up, and the bridge being square, 
there was, of course, an opening under the 
arch : through this opening we crept, lower- 
ing ourselves down by the line, which was 
passed round the chain of the bridge, and, 
keeping both parts in our hands, landed 
on the " guarde fous.*'* Had these bars 

• The " guarde fous" are two iron bars, one above 
the other, suspended by chains on each side of the 
bridge, when down, serving the purpose of hand rails. 


been taken away, escape would have been 
impossible; there being not sufficient 
line for desccutiding into the ditch. We 
then proceeded through another arched 
passage, with the intention of undermining 
the second door, but, to our great sur- 
prise and joy, we found the gens d'armes 
had neglected to lock it. The draw-bridge 
was up; this, however, detained us but 
a short time, we got down, crossed the 
ditch upon the " guarde fous/' as before, 
and landed in the upper citadel. We pro* 
ceeded to the north east curtain, fixed the 
stake and fastened the rope ; as I was get* 
ting down, with my chest against tlie edge 
of the parapet, the stake gave way. White- 
hurst, who was sitting by it, snatched hold of 
the rope, and Mansell, of his coat, whilst I 
endeavoured to grasp the grass, by which 
I was saved fircMoi a fall of Bhoixt^ty feet. 
Fortunately there veas a solitary tree in the 
dtadel ; from this a second stake was cot, 
and the rope doubly secured, ' as before : 
we all got down safe with our knapsacks, 
except Whitehurst, who, when about two 
thirds of the way, from placing bis feet 


against the rampart, and not letting them 
slip so fast as his hands, got himself in 
nearly a horizontal position; seeing his 
danger, I seized the rope, and placed my* 
self in rather an inclined posture under 
him; he fell upon my arm and shoulder 
with a violent shock ; fortunately neither of 
us were hurt : but it is somewhat remark* 
able, that within the lapse of a few minutes, 
we should have preserved each other from 
probable destruction. We all shook hands, 
and, in the excess of joy, heartily congra* 
tulated onrselves upon this providential 
success, after a most perilous and laborious 
work of three hours and three quarters. 
Having put our knapsacks a little in order, 
we mounted the glacis, and followed a 
footpath which led to the eastward. But a 
few minutes elapsed, before several objects 
were observed on the ground, which ima- 
gination, ever on the alert, metamorphosed 
into gens d'armes in ambush ; we however 
marched on, when, to our no smiall relief^ 
they were discovered to be cattle. Gaining 
the high road, we passed, (two and two^ 
about forty paces apart,) through a my 


loug village, and having travelled three or 
four miles, felt ourselves so excessively 
thirsty, that -we stopped to drink at a 
ditch ; in the act of stooping, a sudden 
flash of lightning, from the southward, so 
frightened us, (supposing it to be the 
alarm-gun,) that, instead of waiting to 
drink, we ran for nearly half an hour. 
We stopped a second time, and were pre- 
vented by a second flash, which alarmed us 
even more than the first, for we could not 
persuade ourselves it was lightning, though 
no report was heard. Following up the 
road in quick march^ our attention was 
suddenly arrested by a draw-bridge, which 
being indicative of a fortified place, we sus- 
pected a guard-house to be close at hand, 
and were at first apprehensive of meeting 
with a serious impediment; but obser- 
ving the gates to be open, we concluded 
that those at the other extremity would be 
also open, and therefore pushed forward. 
We drank at the pump, in the square, 
when it was recollected that this was the 
little town of St. Amand. Directing our 
course by the north star, which was oc- 


casionally visible, we passed through with- 
out seeing a creature. About an hour 
after, still continuing a steady pace, four 
stout fellows rushed out from behind a 
hedge, and demanded where we were 
going. Whitehurst and Mansell imme- 
diately ran up ; and^ as we had previously 
resolved never to be taken by equal num- 
bers, each seized his pepper and his knife 
in preparation for fight or flight, replying, 
in a haughty tone of defiance, " What is 
that to you, be careful how you inter- 
rupt military men :" then whispering, loud 
enough for them to hear, " la bayonette," 
upon which they dropt astern, though still 
keeping near us : in the course of a quarter 
of an hour, on turning an angle of the road, 
we lost sight of them, and continued a 
rapid march, frequently running, until 
about five A. M., when we were unexpec- 
tedly stopped by the closed gates of a 
town. We retraced our steps a short dis- 
tance, in the hope of discovering some 
other road, but wet could find neither a 
footpath, nor wood, nor any other place 


of concealment. We quitted the higb 
road, and drew towards a rising ground^ 
there to wait the dawn of day, in the 
hope of retreating to some neigh hour- 
ing copse ; no sooner had we laid our* 
selves upon the ground, than sleep over- 
came us. Our intention was, if no wood 
could be seen, to go to an adjoining 
ploughed field, and there scratch a hole 
in which we could hide ourselves from a 
distant view; upon awakening from a 
short slumber, we reconnoitred arouod, 
and found our position to be near a for- 
tification; being well acquainted with 
such places, we approached, in the hope 
of finding an asylum. At break of day, 
we descended into the ditch, and found 
the entrance into the subterraneous works 
of the covered way, nearly all blocked 
up with ruins and bushes; an open- 
ing, however, was made, we crept in, 
our quarters were established, and the 
rubbish and bushes replaced in the 
space of a few minutes. This most pro- 
vidential and pleasing discovery, added 


to our many narrow escapes from disco- 
very, excited a feeling of gratitude to that 
omnipotent Being, who in his infinite mer- 
cy had thus cast his protecting wings 
around us. 

I have since heard that the first intima- 
tion of our departure at Valenciennes was 
at dawn of day, when, on opening the 
north gate, the rope was seen, suspended 
from the parapet. The roll to muster was 
instantly beaten, and the alarm given to 
the neighbouring peasantry by the firing of 
guns. The midshipmen, on whom suspi- 
cion first fell, were hurried into ranks, half 
dressed, and when the names of the absen- 
tees were called over, some one tauntingly 
replied, " Parti pour 1' Angleterre ;" — this 
tone of triumph considerably exasperated 
the gens d'armes, and inflamed the zeal of 
the pursuers ; it also might have had some 
influence in exciting the solicitude of the 
commandant for our apprehension. But 
to give a more adequate idea of the fury 
of his wrath and disappointment, and also 
of his determination to recover us, dead or 
alive, I may add, (as I have since learnt, from 


a respectable inhabitant who happened to 
dine in his company a few days after be 
had received the mids' first application to be 
restored to parole,) that he treated escape 
as utterly impossible and hopeless, and un- 
reservedly spoke of the letter as containing 
a threat — a mere *' gasconade*' — " Nous 
verrons/' said he, " si ces blancs-becs peu- 
vent m'fechapper." The report of this 
threat was soon circulated, and when it 
was really executed, my informant assured 
me, that no occurrence relating to the 
prisoners, excited a more general sensa- 
tion;* the whole town was in confusion. 
All the bloody-minded rabble, were let 
loose, with multifarious weapons, and 
" carte blanche,'' to " massacrer" these 
lawless "aspirans." Besides which, 500 
of the ** garde natiouale," were dispatched 
to scour all the woods within five leagues, 
and an additional reward of 300 livres was 
offered, for the capture of each of us. The 
reason for limiting the search to that 
distance, was a belief of the improba- 
bility of our having exceeded it, after 
the arduous 4ask of undermining, &c. 


But to proceed : — ^We were totally unac- 
quainted with the country; an examination 
of the maps pointed out the place of our 
retreat to be the fortification of Toumay ; 
the fallen ruins were the bed upon which 
fetigue, and a confidence of security, pro- 
cured us a sound and refreshing sleep. At 
three P.M. we enjoyed our dinner, not- 
withstanding the want of beverage, for 
upon examining the knapsacks, the flasks 
were found broken. Whitehurst, having 
lost his hat in descending the first rampart, 
was occupied in manufacturing a cap, from 
the skirts of his coat. It rained all the 
afternoon, and the weather, in the evening, 
growing worse, we were detained till 
about ten P. M., when, no prospect of its 
clearing up presenting itself, we quitted 
our comfortable abode, walked round the 
citadel, to the westward, over ploughed 
ground, until, coming to a turnip field, we 
regaled ourselves most sumptuously. By 
eleven, we had rounded the town, and 
gained the north road. During the night 
we passed through several villages, with- 
out seeing any one, and, at six A. M; 



arrived at the suburbs of Courtray, ex- 
pecting there to find as snug a retreat as 
the one we had left the preceding evening; 
but, to our mortification, the town w)^ 
enclosed with wet ditches, which obliged 
us to seek safety elsewhere. Observing a 
form house on the right, our steps were 
directed towards it, and thence through 
bye lanes, until a mansion was discovered ; 
this we approached, in the hope of finding 
an out-house which would afford us shel« 
ter for the day; nothing of the kiitd could 
be seen; but, not far distant, a thicket was 
descried, of about 150 paces square, sur- 
rounded by a wet ditch, from fourteen to 
twenty feet wide ; here then we deter- 
mined to repose our wearied limbs, and, it 
being day-light, not a moment was to be 
lost: the opposite side of the narrowest 
t)art of the ditch, was one entife bed of 
brambles, and^ in the midst of these, we 
were obliged to leap. Hunter, Mansell, 
and myself, got over tolerably well ; but, 
when Whitehurst made the attempt, stiff 
with wet and cold, and the bank giving 
way, from his great weight, he jumped 


into the water, and it was with some diffi- 
culty he could be extricated, and not 
without being dragged through the bram- 
bles, by which he was severely scratched. 
We lay ourselves down in the centre of 
this swampy thicket. The rain had con- 
tinued without intermission from the time 
of leaving Tournay, and, notwithstanding 
it somewhat discommoded us, yet we 
were consoled by the additional security 
it afforded; this little island protected 
us till near dark, when we walked round 
it to find the easiest point of egress. From 
the torrents of rain that had fallen during 
the day, but which had now ceased, the 
ditches had become considerably wider, 
and there was only one opening in the 
bushes, whence a leap couLd be made ; of 
this, three of us profited, the fourth ob* 
tained a passage, by the aid of a decay- 
ed willow, which overhung the opposite 
bank. Oourtray being fortified, it was 
impossible to cross the river Lys at that 
place ; we were, ^nsequently, obliged to 
go to Deynse, that being an open town. 
Abmit eight P. M., proceeding over plough^- 



ed ground, rendered almost impassable by 
the heavy rains, to gain the high road, 
guided by the north star, and assisted by 
a strong southern wind, we marched on at 
a great rate, and, about ten, entered the 
village of Haerlabeck. Observing a '^ ca- 
baret," at the north end, Whitehurst here 
purchased bread and gin, our remaining 
bread being completely saturated with 
moisture ; this regale re-animated and for- 
tified us against the inclemency of the 
weather, which it was apprehended might 
be productive of sickness. At one, the 
rain re-eommenced, and, in such profu- 
sion, that it obliged us to retreat to the 
protection of a neighbouring hay stack, 
where we lay sometime, but, finding no 
chance of fine weather, we resumed our 
march until five, and then entered a 
wood about three miles ,from Deynse; 
a spot was chosen in the thickest part, 
where we fenced ourselves with fallen 
leaves, and twigs. We lay down in our 
little redoubt, and slept until day-break, 
when, finding our position too exposed, 
from its proximity to a cottage and main 


roady we were obliged to quit it, but pre- 
viously broke up the work. Having pene- 
trated farther into the wood, we concealed 
ourselves as before; here we remained 
during the day, listening to the howling of 
the wind, which rose gradually into a furi- 
ous storm of driving sleet, rain, and hail ; 
and, such was its violence, that our gar- 
ments were scarcely felt to be a covering. 
We quitted this wood soon after dark, and 
gained the high road for Deynse. After 
marching about an hour, and passing seve- 
ral people, (Whitehurst and Mansell al- 
ways preserving their stipulated distance 
in the rear,) we were overtaken by two 
horse gens d'armes ; but it being exceed- 
ingly dark, they took us for conscripts, part 
of their own escort, for one of them, in a 
muffled tone, as if fearful of exposing his 
nose, said, ** Make haste, you will be too 
late for your lodging tickets ;" reply was 
made that we were fettigued; soon after, 
the rain increasing, they trotted on, re- 
peating, '^ Make haste, make haste." We 
were not much flattered by the honour of 
their company, btit not in such danger as 


one might imagine, as the road was be- 
tween two woods, with a broad ditch on 
each side ; had they stopped to dismount, 
we should have instantly jumped over, 
and run into the wood, where no cavalry 
could have pursued. 

The rain continued to pour down, and^ 
having been completely soaked to the skin 
during many hours, about ten P.M. we 
held a council of war. Although such 
consultations have been designated the 
•' bane of enterprise," and considered an 
eflbrt on the part of the commanding offi- 
cer to diminish his responsibility, in the 
event of failure, it was not so with us, — for, 
being without a commander, we consulted 
upon almost every important measure ; the 
unanimity that prevailed, not only render- 
ed success more certain, but made each 
bear his own individual privations with 
cheerfulness, and proved a stimulant to 
our energy, which seemed to increase 
with increasing difficulties and sufferings. 
After mature deliberation, it was agreed 
to enter the town, and reconnoitre the 
low public bouses, in order to purchase 


provisions ; we accordingly marched on. 
Whitehurst entered one, which he found 
too full of company, and then a second, 
in which he saw four stupid looking 
young men, almost as wet as ourselves ; 
we resolved all to go in, keeping the door 
at the elbow in case of necessity; we did 
so, and, asking for gin, drew round the 
stove. From the conversation, of these 
men, it appeared, that a large party of con- 
scripts had arrived that evening, on their 
road to Ghent, and were billeted about 
the town ; this information we immediately 
turned to account. Our landlord wajsi 
given to understand we were conscripts, 
who, in consequence of lameness, were 
allowed to travel at leisure, upon condition 
of reaching Ghent by seven on the follow- 
ing morning ; but that, having been pre* 
vented, by the bad weather, from arriving 
in time to procure billets, -we would pay 
for lodging and supper ; to this he readily 
agreed. One of the drunken fellows in 
the room, rousing from his lethargy, wildly 
stared, and abruptly complimented us 
with the novel information that we vt^ere 


deserters; when the landlord, obsenriug 
our apparent indignation, which be mis- 
took for real, interposed in order to keep 
peace, and begged us to take no notice of 
it, as they were drunk; to which we 
feigned an unwilling acquiescence, but 
were, nevertheless, somewhat disconcerted ; 
however, he fell asleep again, and, soon 
after, they departed, too drunk to make 
any further observation. Notwithstanding 
our fears and the garlic, we ate a most 
hearty supper ; at midnight, after preparing 
every thing for a start, in case of emer- 
gency, and all our clothes dry, we lay 
down on two beds, each keeping watch in 
turn, until four A.M. when we bought 
two flasks of spirits and some provisions. 
The weather was fine, and not a creature 
stirring, but the landlord; we paid him, 
and departed. Without thinking of the 
road to Ghent, we turned to the left, when 
he called to us, " You are going wrong ;" 
we thanked him, and proceeded as he 
directed ; the door, however, was no sooner 
closed, than we crossed the street, one by 
one, crept silently past his house, and 


took the road to Bruges; so that, had 
there been any suspicion, this accidental 
occurrence must have thrown the chace 
off the scent. Continuing our journey to 
the N. W., until dawn of day, we entered 
a thick low wood, and here lay without 
disturbance, basking in the vivifjang rays 
of the sun, and listening to the church 
bells summoning all good people to as- 
semble. We would willingly have joined 
them, had the church been so secure an 
asylum as the wood. As Whitehurst, 
with a praiseworthy and religious sense of 
the dangers he was about to encounter, 
had packed his prayer-book in his knap- 
sack, and preserved it through all his dis- 
asters, we read prayers, offering up our 
humble thanksgivings for deliverance from 
the hand of the enemy. About sun-set, it 
began to rain again, we quitted the^wood, 
and proceeded to the westward, by a very 
bad road, frequently halting to rest, our 
feet being excessively tender. At about 
one A. M^, we passed through a village, 
and took shelter, for some little time, from 
a very heavy shower, under a portico, and 


tbw went on through another village. At 
three, croased the high road to Bruges ; a 
solitary public house was near, in which 
no one could be seen but an old woman, 
fitting by the fire; and being again tho* 
roughly wet, we entered, asking for gin. 
Many minutes had not elapsed before a 
Frenchman came in, baited his horse, and 
departed, without addressing, or seeming 
to take the least notice of us. After re- 
galing ourselves with eggs, and drying our 
olothes a little, we continued our march in 
the rain till near seven ; then struck into a 
wood by the road side, and fortified our- 
aelves with leaves as before. The rain fell 
in torrents, during the whole day, attended 
with repeated showers of hail. The increas- 
ing violence of the wind also, rendering 
the wfesiher intensely cold, which caused 
such a perpetual chattering of the teeth, 
that it wajD with difficulty we could articu- 
late with sufficient distinctness to be un- 
derstood* In addition to these sufier- 
jugs, our feet were severely blistered. I 
^bad a tumour forming on my left side, which 
obliged me to lie always on tiie right. 


and proved the foundation of a rbeumatiMEi, 
which I much fear I shall feel through life. 
Towards evening, the incessant fall of rain, 
had so nearly inundated the wood, that, 
had we continued two hours longer, we 
must have been floated out of our nest. 
Soon after five P.M. we proceeded by the 
main road ; but it being very dark, we could 
no longer direct our course by the stars. 
About eight, we met a Fleming, of whom we 
inquired the road to Bniges, but through 
his misunderstanding us, we were induced 
to walk back a considerable distance; 
when, passing a lone hut, we again asked 
the question, and were told not to quit 
the high road to the left ; by this retrograde 
movement, we had marched about four 
miles unnecessarily ; nevertheless, towards 
midnight we arrived at the gates of Bruges. 
At this time, we were all in a most deplo- 
rable coodition,— wet to the skin, our feet 
bleeding, and so swollen, that we could 
iscarcely walk at the rate of three miles an 
hour. Near the gates we observed a pub- 
lic hou^e, and, having hitherto found such 
places to alflford relief and safety, at this 


hour of the night, we entered, and saw no- 
body but an old woman and a servant; at 
first they appeared somewhat surprised, 
but asked no questions except such as re- 
garded our wants, frequently exclaiming, 
" pauvres conscripts." We dried our 
clothes, when the sudden transition from 
cold to heat split Hunter's feet, several of 
his nails also were loose, and Whitehurst 
had actually walked off two. The fire 
made us all so very sensitive, that we could 
scarcely bare a foot to the floor; but found 
some relief by bathing them in oil ; having, 
however, enjoyed a comfortable supper, we 
lay ourselves down as before, keeping 
watch in turn, until four A. M., when we 
paid the old woman, and departed. After 
wandering about in the dark, endeavour- 
ing to find out a road round the town, 
until break of day, we sought refuge in a 
neighbouring wood : here we reposed un- 
til three in the afternoon, screened by 
dead leaves : about that time a boy alarm- 
ed us ; no sooner had he disappeared than 
we retreated, one by one, to a place of 
greater security, near a windmill, which. 


for the sake of distinction, was termed 
Windmill Wood. This was the second 
fine day since leaving Valenciennes, and 
the sun, diffusing its benign influence 
throughout our whole frame, so renovated 
our strength, that, forgetting our wounds, 
we felt equal to the severest trials. At 
sun-set, the fort was again broken up, 
and, having had time during the day to 
consult the map, we marched directly to 
the bridge over the canal, doubled the 
tovm to the westward, and gained the 
road to the coast. About ten, being ex- 
ceedingly fatigued from the difficulty of 
walking in the lacerated state of our feet, 
we thought of halting for the night ; judg- 
ing this more prudent, than going into 
danger with the certainty of being unequal 
to any sudden effort, or rapid retreat; 
however, unwilling to lose an hour, and 
dreading the probability of becoming worse 
and weaker, we determined to proceed. 
About eleven, having gained only a mile 
in three quarters of an hour, we were 
compelled to halt, and bivouac'd in an ad- 
joining copse, exposed to repeated showers. 


At eight A. M., being surprised by 
an old woman collecting wood, who imme- 
diately fled in the utmost constemation, 
we also decamped, deeming it imprudent 
to remain in any spot where we had been 
seen ; scarcely had we quitted the copse, 
when two sportsmen were observed to 
enter it, we immediately jumped over a 
ditch, hobbled about two miles to the east- 
ward, crept into an almost impenetrable 
thicket, and there remained in the rain till 
nine P.M. We then gained the high 
road, and continued our route to Blanken- 
berg, a village on the coast, a few miles to 
the eastward of Ostend. ' At ten, passing 
by a solitary public house, we observed 
through the window, an old man, two 
women, and a boy, sitting round a com- 
fortable fire, at supper; Hunter and my* 
self entered for the purpose of purchasing 
provisions to take on board any vessel we 
might be enabled to seize, being then about 
four miles from the sea ; we asked for gin, 
the woman of the house rose and stared at 
us, apparently alarmed at our appearance ; 
we repeated the demand without obtaining 


a reply; still gazing, for a few secondis, 
regardless of our request, she rapturously 
exclaimed, " Mon Dieu, ce eiont des An- 
glois," immediately offerit)g ua chairs. 
Somewhat disconcerted at this unexpected 
reception, we again asked for gin, to 
which she replied, " Take seats, and you 
shall have whatever my house can afford.'* 
We thanked her for the attention, reiter- 
ating our request ; she insisted we should 
partake of her fsBtre, assuring ua that not a 
soul should enter the house during our 
stay, if we would but sit down ; we again 
refused, observing, that, being conscripts, 
ordered into garrison at Blankenberg, we 
were f(^arfdl of punishment should we not 
arrive there that night according to orders; 
she burst into a loud laugh, running to bar 
the door and window shutters, at the same 
time ordering the servant to fry more ham 
and eggs ; we assured her it was useless, 
as we had already taken supper at Bruges, 
and that we dare not stay, adding, it was a 
pretty compliment to us Frenchmen to call 
us English ; she jocosely replied, " Well, 
tiien^ you are not English, but it is $o 


long since I saw any of my good folks, 
that I insist on your eating some ham and 
eggs with me; besides, you will not be 
able to get away from Blankenberg to 
night." We used every means in our 
power to dispossess her of her suspicions, 
to all. which she only replied, ** Take 
chairs, if it is only for a few minutes, and 
then ^ par complaisance,' I will believe 
you." Her persevering deportment, bear- 
ing the almost certain stamp of sincerity, 
together with our hungry inclinations, in- 
duced us to accept the invitation, and 
partake of her luxuries, knowing there 
could be little danger, as Whitehurst and 
Mansell were on the look out. During 
our most comfortable regale; she talked of 
nothing but her dear English, (notwith- 
standing our repeated endeavour to change 
the subject,) dwelling particularly on the 
happiness of her former life, when in the 
service of an English family. She uttered 
several broken sentences in English, of 
which we took not the slightest notice, 
but which confirmed in our minds the idea 
of her having lived sometime where the 


language was spoken. Being just about 
to rise, furnished with provisions for our 
companions, a loud rap announced some 
one at the door : — the woman started up, 
seized me by the arm, and, pushing me 
into the next room, exclaimed, '^ Pour 
r amour de Dieu par ici, les gens d* armes/* 
Although we felt sure it was Whitehurst, 
yet we had no objection to see the result 
of this manoeuvre, and therefore made no 
resistance to her wishes; but complied with 
seeming reluctance ; still, as it was possi- 
ble he might have knocked to warn us of 
the approach of some one» we followed her 
to the back door ; at parting, she took me 
by the hand, and repeated her assurance 
of the impossibility of getting off from 
Blankenberg that night, and desired us to 
return, adding, " Good night, friends, I 
shall see you again/' Nothing but a tho- 
rough conviction of our being absconding 
prisoners of war, added to a sincere re- 
gard for the English^ could have produced 
such conduct; certainly neither our ac- 
tions nor accent betrayed us, for they were 
less foreign to the French than her own. 



No sooner had we r^ained the road, than 
our compaoions joioed us ; from them we 
learnt, that, being alarmed at sedng the 
window closed, they \irere on the point of 
bursting open the door; when, peeping 
through the shatter, they saw every thing 
that passed within, and, wishing to be of 
the party, gave the rap which alarmed our 
friendly hostess. Continuing our march 
for the coast, we passed through a village 
about midnight, stopping occasimially to 
listen, with delight, to the pleasmg mono- 
tony of the waves rolling over the beach, 
which, as we approached, created feelings 
of etijoymetit that I had never before ex- 
perienced. Between twelve and one A. M. 
we entered the village of Blankenberg, 
protected from the sea by the sand bank. 
Observing a large gateway, apparently the 
road to the beach, I passed through to re- 
connoitre, leaving my companions in the 
street ; to my great consternation, I found 
myself near a guard-house, and close to a 
sentry-box, from which I had the good 
fortune to retreat, unobserved. Proceed- 
ing through the village, to the wartward. 


and finding a foot-path leading over the 
sand bank, we ran down to the sea, for- 
getting our wounds, and exulting as though 
the summit of our wishes was attained, 
and we were on the point of embarkation. 
Indeed, so exquisite was the delight, that, 
regardless of consequences, we dashed into 
the water, drank of it, and splashed about 
like playful school-boys, without being 
the least disconcerted that the few vessdis 
that could be seen were high and dry, 
close under the battery; nor will these 
feelings create surprise, when it is recol- 
lected, that more than five years had 
elapsed since we last quitted the sea in 
the Mediterranean, and that to regain it 
was considered as surmounting the princi- 
pal obstacle to final success. But when 
these first transports had a little subsided, 
and were succeeded by rational reflection, 
we could but acutely feel the disappoint^ 
ment ; although, had we been enabled pro- 
p^ly to calculate the tides, we might have 
foreseen this eyent, for it was high water 
on that day about half-past five P.M., 
consequently, low water about midnight, 



and, as the veiStsels cannot be launched 
from that flat beach, excepting about the 
last quarter of the floods and the first of 
the ebb tides, we coi^ld not have got 
afloat, had we arrived even four hours 

Our spirits, however, were not to be 
damped, and, notwithstanding our original 
intention was to make for Cadsand, we 
resolved to wait in the neighbourhood the 
issue of another night ; to this end we re- 
turned by the same path, to the village, 
and, while going leisurely along the strand 
street, heard a distant sound of the clash- 
ing of muskets, and footsteps of a body of 
men running; this was decidedly the 
guard, who had probably seen us from the 
heights. We instantly doubled back, 
crossed by a bye lane, leaped a ditch, and 
ran over the fields, until we judged our- 
selves out of reach of the pursuers. This 
was another instance of our narrowly es- 
caping danger, which some may attribute 
to blind chance, but which, by us, was felt 
to be an interposition - of Divine Provi- 
dence in our favour; for there. can be. no 


doubt, that, had we continued two minutes 
longer on the beach, or had not the mus- 
kets' clash given the alarm, we certainly 
should have come in contact with the 
guard; the result of which would have 
been imprisonment, or, not improbably, 
death. On regaining the high road, we 
consulted what measures to adopt; after 
some consideration, it was determined to 
revisit the " cabaret ;" we accordingly re- 
turned to an adjoining wood, and there 
lay until day dawned^ when Hunter and 
myself proceeded to the house, and were 
told the old lady had not yet risen. The 
nature of our . embassy not admitting of 
much . time being wasted in '^ punctilious 
etiquette," we went to her chamber door, 
and solicited an audience ; this was readily 
granted, without any confusion, or even 
quitting her bed. After the usual saluta- 
tions, > we apologized for ^ our early call, 
attributing it to the commandant at Blan- 
kenberg having ordered us back to Bruges, 
by seven o'clock, adding, that gratitude 
for her kindness, the preceding evening, 
had induced us to call '' en passant:" 


'^ Bah/' she exclaimed, with a mgnificaiit 
grin, '' I told you, you could not get off 
from Blankenberg, and that I should see 
you again ; sit down, we will haye coffee, 
and then talk over matters ;" at the same 
time ordering her son, a lad about twdve 
years of age, to look out of the door and 
let her know when he saw any one com- 
ing; she then rose and dressed herself. 
We were recommencing a train of compli- 
ments, for the purpose of bringing about 
the truth, when she exclaimed, ** Hold 
your tongues, I knew that you were Eng- 
lish gentl^nen the moment I saw you/' 
The whole tenor of her familiar and pithy 
style of address, convinced us of het sin- 
cerity, and we immediately offered her 
one hundred pounds, to be divided between 
her and any boatmen who would under- 
take to land us and our comrades in 
England, or put us on board an English 
yessel. '' Comrades," she exclaimed, '^ what 
comrades?" We replied, there were two 
others in the neighbouring wood, smxiously 
waiting our return, '* Call them instantly," 
she said, ^^ and twenty others if they are 


there ; in three or four days you shall all 
^* be in Eugland, or I am not an honest wo- 
man." The signal was given ; Whitehurst 
and Mansell promptly joined, — when, at- 
tempting to congratulate each other upon 
this auspicious occasion, our hearts were so 
overpowered with joy that we could scarce- 
ly articulate ; the tear of gratitude trickled 
down the cheek, whilst die hand of friend- 
ship simultaneously met that of its neigh- 
bour; even the old woman, (notwithstand- 
ing her vivacity) could not r^raiu from 
participating in our feelings. 

AftOT cutting the money, amounting 
to about £20 out of our collars, to let 
our hostess see we w»e not penny- 
less: we sat down to breakfast before a 
comfortable fire . She after wards conduct- 
ed us into a hay4oft, o^r a back room 
which was never made use of in winter, 
so that we werenow in comparative safety; 
dependant, indeed, on the sincerity of the 
family: it was not, however^ probable, 
they would prove treacherous ; for, exclu- 
sively ,o£ the woman's apparent devotion 
to itbe English, Jhe sum we proffered, so 


much exceeded that of the French gOYern- 
menty viz £2 : Is. »d. per head (for she, as 
well as ourselves, at the time, was igno- 
rant of the reward offered at Valencien- 
nes), that it would amply compensate for 
the risk. The roof which now sheltered 
us, covered a solitary " cabaret" situated 
midway, between Bruges and Blanken- 
bei^, known by the sign of the *^ Raie-de- 
chat," which, by way of abbreviation, we 
called the ^' Cat," and being the house of 
police correspondence, it was visited regu- 
larly three times a week, and sometimes 
. oftener, by the gens d'armes, consequently 
the less likely to be suspected. According 
to the " code Napoleon," the penalties at- 
tached to favouring the escape of pri- 
soners of war, were a fine of J&12 10s. the 
expences of the law proceedings, and two 
months' imprisonment. This law, however, 
did not intimidate Madame Derikre, for 
such was her name; she resolved upon 
serving us ; yet notwithstanding her appa- 
rent sincerity and assurance of success, 
our minds were not perfectly at ease until 
twenty-four hours had elapsed ; that being 

1*^ t 


the time allowed for proprietors to announce 
to the police, the presence of strangers 
in their houses. In order to excite confi- 
dence, we offered her all our money ; this 
she generously refused, declaring that if 
success did not attend our exertions^ she 
should not expect a stiver. No sooner 
were we in the loft, than, aided by our 
friendly hostess, our separate wounds were 
examined and dressed. After dark, the 


servant maid, named Cocher, and the dog 
Fox being placed at the front door to 
watch, we descended to partake of some 
broth ; anxiously waiting the return of a 
messsenger sent by Madame Derikre to 
Blankenberg for her confidential friend, a 
man named Winderkins. About nine, the 
boy came with intelligence, that he was 
gone to Ostend, and that his wife would 
send him to the "Cat" upon his return. 
We remounted into the loft, and slept as 
comfortably upon clean stra^, as the pain 
of our wounds would allow. The follow- 
ing evening. Mynheer Winderkins was in- 
troduced; he undertook, upon condition 
of sharing the reward, to find a fisherman 


who would ^ther land us in England, or 
put us on board an English man of war ; 
and promised information on the subject 
the following day. In continual expecta* 
tion of the happy hour of departure, we re- 
mained in our snug retreat ; receiving fre- 
quent messages from Winderkins until the 
1st of December, when he appeared, at- 
tributing his delay to the precautions ne- 
cessary to be taken on so critical an occa- 
sion ; but having at length succeeded, we 
were to hold ourselves in r^tdiness to de- 
part that night Soon aftw eight P. M. 
furnished with a few provisions, we quitted 
the '^ Cat", leaving with Madame Darikre 
bills to the amount of jS50, reserving the 
other fifty for Winderkins and the boat- 
men. In an hour we reached Blanken- 
berg ; following pur guide down the beach 
to the eastWtSJrd of the village, and ccm- 
coaling ourselves amongst the sand-hills, 
whilst he w^it to apprise the fisherman 
of our arrival. In this position we re- 
mained about two hours, Winderkins oc- 
casionally returning and desiring us to be 
particularly siknt, thi^^ being several men 


on the beach, and the patrole an the alert. 
After a further absence of half an hour, he 
again returned, telKng us^ we must be pa- 
tient, and postpone the event to the next 
night, the tide having then ebbed so as to 
leave the vessels high and dry. We re- 
turned to the ^^ Cat" much to the surprise 
of Madame Derikre. The Iblloviring day, 
Winderkins not appearing, the boy was des- 
patched to learn the caase« About noon 
he returned with answer, that as there was 
not the slightest <dmnce of success tiiat 
night, he thought it imprudent to expose 
us to uselei^ danger. We now began to 
suspect' his fidelity, and thinking he might 
doubt the performance of our promise, it 
was agreed to give him h^lf the remaining 
cash, and abill of ^30, when on the beach, 
upon conditkm that he fulfilled lus engage- 
ment, or returned it. On the 3rd he ap- 
peared, and informed us, that in conse- 
quence of the fisherman having been uur 
suocessfiil, they Imd obtained permission 
to remain afloat a mile from the shore, and, 
provided no English* -vessel was seen, it 
was prdbable that that permission would 


be extended to several days ; we must, 
tlierefore, be patient, and he would, upoi^ 
the honour of a Fleming, insure success. 
On the 4th he sent his daughter to say that 
all was well, and he would be with us in 
the evening. He kept his word : to insure 
his fidelity, we divided our money as before 
agreed, between him and Madame Deri- 
kre, having previously paid her the greater 
part of our twenty *'louis" for food. 

We now bade adieu to the " Cat," and, 
accompanied by Madame Derikre and Win- 
derkins, proceeded to Blankenberg. After 
leaving us some time behind the sand-hills, 
the latter returned with information that he 
could not find the fisherman who • had un- 
dertaken to embark us. It was instantly 
determined to seize one of the schuyts; 
we accordingly ran dovm to the beach, pre- 
ceded by Winderkins as a look out, gave 
him his bill, and leaped on board the outer- 
most vessel; the sails were arranged and 
every thing speedily prepared for weighing. 
The night was dark, we sat silent as the 
grave, waiting with intense anxiety, until 
the tide, which was then flowing, should 


float our little bark. Whilst thus listen- 
ing to the murmuring break of the sea^ 
which seemed slowly to approach, as if 
chiding our impatience, yet iuTiting us to 
the protection of its bosom, our dearest 
hopes appeared upon the point of being 
realized; these hopes however were but 
of short duration, and only tended to ren- 
der our disappointment more bitter: the 
tide rose, just to cast a few sprays against 
the bows, and to retire. So high had our 
expectations been raised, that the water 
had receded some feet, ere we" could be- 
lieve it had left us ; it was then, however, 
too evident to be doubted. In so ^critical 
a situation, within pistol shot of the fort, 
;there .was little time for deliberation ; dis- 
appointed, but not disheartened, every ar- 
ticle was replaced as it had been found, 
and we reluctantly withdrew, fully con- 
vinced however, of the practicability of get- 
ting afloat from Blankenberg, if we did 
but seize. the proper opportunity. It was, 
therefore, determined, to repeat the attempt 
the following night, and, in the mean time, 
to reoccupy our old quarters. 


In the monuDg, Winderkins sent to say, 
he had reason to suspect the fisherman had 
proYed treacherous; that we had better 
not quit the '* Cat/' being there in perfect 
security ; and that a day or two of patience 
might saYe us years of misery. The 
soundness of this reasoning made us. con* 
tent in the loft, until the ev^ng of the 
Qthy when he came, and exultingly con*- 
gratulated us upon the present certainty 
of success. *' In two days," said Mynheer, 
*'you shall be with your families, for I have 
now found a fisherman who will undertake 
the job, provided his vessel be restored to 
him ;'' of this, we gave him every assurance^ 
and he left us. After so irksome a state 
of suspense, we were the more elated at 
the now flattering prospect of a speedy re- 
storation to our native shore. On the lOA 
he returned, damping our bopep^ with in- 
formation, that, in consequence of the ap- 
pearance of several English vessds of war, 
all the fishing smacks were hauled above 
high water mark. Suspecting such repeat- 
ed excuses originated either in fear, or inca- 
pacity to fulfil hi» ^igagement, it was de- 


termined to go again that nighty so as to 
be on the beach at half flood. We^ ac- 
cordii^ly, departed towards midnight, and 
rendezvoused at his house ; his daughters 
keeping iratcb at the doors, for it appear* 
ed all the family were in the secret. 
Leaving my friends there^ I went with 
Winderkins to the beach, and found the 
vessels as he had represented, except one, 
which was moored with five hawsers, about 
pktol shot from the fort, just to the east* 
ward of a jet^e. I got on bbard to exa- 
mine her sails, and to see that every thing 
necessary could be got ready in an instant. 
I found that the Mrind, being nearly on 
shore, we should be obliged to make 
aboard to the eastward, which, in a flat 
bottomed craft, without sufficient ballast, 
the ropes and rails all covered with frozen 
snow, and a good deal of swell upon the 
beach, would have been of very doubtful 
issue: should, however, the vnnd shift 
only two points, there was a chance of 
success* With Ibis information I return- 
ed to my comrades, and we all went 
down to the beach, there watching the 


rise and fall of the tide ; when, the im- 
practicability of getting the vessel to sea, 
as the wind then stood, being evident, and 
seeing her again hard and fast, we returned 
to the country from the fourth trip. The 
next day, bad weather prevented the fish- 
ermen from going to sea, and obliged them 
to haul the vessels beyond the reach of 
the surf. The hopes of getting away from 
Blankenberg being somewhat lessened, 
our attention was directed to other quar- 
ters. Winderkins was despatched to Os- 
tend, and Nieuport, to find what chance 
there was of succeeding in that neighbour- 
hood, vnth instructions to return in forty- 
eight hours. Three days, however, elapsed 
without our hearing a word, and the con- 
tinuance of bad weather rendered night ex- 
cursions to Blankenberg, useless. Repeated 
messengers were now sent, but no tidings 
of Mynheer. I therefore resolved upoa 
going myself, in disguise, for the double 
purpose of seeing^ if he was there, and of 
ascertaining the position of the i^chuyts. 
Equipped with Monsieur Derikre's great 
coat, large broad brimmed hat, and caii- 


vas gaiterSy with scraps of paper directed 
to two of the inhabitants^ under pretence 
of purchasing pigs, I set out at two in the 
afternoon, attended by old Cocher, the 
servant maid, who walked about fifty paces 
in advance. On my arrival, Madame 
Winderkins received me in the utmost 
confusion : I questioned her upon her hus- 
band's delay ; she told me she was appre- 
hensive some accident had befallen him, 
or he certainly would not have failed in 
his promise. In the midst of our conver- 
sation, he entered, having visited the coast 
as far as Calais, without discovering any 
prospect of success more promising than 
at Blankenberg ; he assured me, that not 
a craft, nor a boat of any kind, was to 
be seen in a situation whence it could be 
carried off. After a fulsome train of com- 
pliments, upon the patience and perse- 
verance we had hitherto displayed; he 
repeated his entire devotion to the cause, 
be the risk never so great, and said, that 
during the detention of the fishing vessels, 
he would range the coast, and endeavour to 
find out other means of embarking. I 


then went with him to the beach, and exa- 
mined the precise situation of the schuyts. 
During an hour's promenade in this de- 
lightful, though perplexing, situation, an 
English brig hove in sight. I fear I might 
incur the imputation of bordering on the 
romantic, were I to attempt to^ describe 
the varied and conflicting sensations, by 
which I was agitated at again beholding 
the British flag ; nor can I say, what risks 
I would not have hazarded in order to get 
afloat, bad there been a boat at hand ; in 
in which case, I, of course, should have re- 
turned io the night, to carry oflF my com- 
rades^ I left this scene with reluctance, 
and returned to the " Cat," previously di- 
recting Winderkins to go the following day 
towards Flushing. 

On the 16th, he returaed> without any 
satisfactory information ; but he was ena* 
bled to assure us, that it was utterly im- 
possible to seize the Flushing packet boat, 
as we had intended, every passenger being 
strictly examined, and his passport proved, 
before he was suffered to embark ; so that 
^ur bQpe«^ s»^«ie4 Uwit^ to {il^nkepbecg* 


He also assured us, that the number and 
vigilance of the patrole were such, that an 
attempt to range the coasts would be at- 
tended with certain capture. This intel- 
ligence, anything but cheering, made it 
difficult to decide upon the best mode of 
proceeding; but, being still persuaded of 
the possibility of gettipg afloat from Blan- 
kenberg, it was determined to make ano- 
ther effort before we left that part of the 
coast. Madame Derikre informed ns, the 
cause of Winderkin's delay, when des- 
patched to the westward, was — ^liis going to 
Dunkirk, where he had a private con- 
ference with a banker, who expressed a 
favourable opinion of the bill we had given 
him, having before n^otiated others with 
the same signature ; observing, at the same 
time, that he was aware the gentleman had 
eloped, and advising him not to make use 
of it at present This information, no 
doubt, urged him to persevere in our 
behalf, and was also an additional stimu- 
lant to the avowed friendship of the Deri- 
kre». In the evening, Winderkins sent 



word that the vessels were all preparing- 
for sea; but the next morning our expecta- 
tions were again disappointed, by infor- 
mation that the government had laid an 
embargo on all the Blankenberg craft, un- 
til they furnished five seamen for the navy/ 
The vessels were again hauled up above 
high water mark, and the fishermen fled 
in all directions. We now thought of 
making our way into Holland; but the 
severity of the weather, the extreme diffi- 
culty of penetrating into that country, the 
want of means to travel, combined with the 
dissuasion of Madame Derikre and Win- 
derkins, who repeated their assurances of 
shelter and assistance, induced us to re- 
main in our present situation. In the 
daily hope of a favourable change, we 
continued in the loft, but were occasion- 
ally in some danger; for the house was sd- 
dom without gens d'armes, custom-house- 
officers, or foot soldiers, looking out for 
the seamen. The door of our loft, was, 
however, kept shut, and the ladder, by 
which only it was accessible, placed over 


head, in the stable, out of sight. Day 
after day elapsed, without any relaxation 
in this decree. 

Feeling how precarious was our situa- 
tion, Hunter and myself proposed to re- 
connoitre the woods, in order to find out 
the most secure asylum, in the event of 
being disturbed. , About two P. M., the 
boy first looking out to see if the coast 
was clear, we sallied forth on the high 
road to Bruges, but had scarcely gone a 
mile, when two horse gens d' armes were 
observed coming towards us: being then 
near a gate, we struck off into a large 
ploughed field, surrounded with wood, 
and, when screened from the gens d' armes 
by the hedge, took to our heels. It ap- 
peared, that, no sooner did they observe 
us turn off the road, than they galloped 
for the gate; for they entered the field 
just as we were about to reach the wood. 
Luckily, there was a wide ditch, so over- 
flowed, that part of the wood was inun- 
dated; we instantly plunged in, swam 
over, escaped into^ the interior, and there 
lay concealed until dark, when we re« 


joined our friends in the Icrft. To our 
surprise we learnt, from Madame Derikre, 
that she had heard of our adventure from 
the gens d' armes, who halting to bait, told 
her, they were very nearly catching two 
of the Blankenberg sailors^ ''but the rogues 
swam like ducks." This narrow escape 
was a warning, to be more cautious. I 
mention it, because it was the only act we 
committed, which had not an object in 
view worth the risk. We, consequently, 
now confined ourselves to the loft, receiv- 
ing from, and sending messages to, Win- 
derkins. At this time, we occasionally 
amused ourselves by writing, in French, 
bulletins of our proceedings from the 16th 
of November ; and it is upon these memo- 
randa that this *' Narrative" is grounded* 
On the 2d of January, information was 
brought that two of the vessels had been 
nearly floated, by the last tide. Upon the 
receipt of this joyful news, it was resolved 
to pay them a visit that night ; the wind 
being from the eastward, and the weather 
fine,^our hopes were most sanguine, amount- 
ing almost to a confidence of immediate 


departure. Accordingly, soon after eleven, 
we went down to the coast, remaining be- 
hind the sand hills, as before, until the 
tide rose within a few feet of one of the 
vessels, which was found embedded in the 
ice and snow; we, however, jumped on 
board, and, in this situation, remained 
about twenty minutes, in the anxious hope 
that every succeeding wave would lift her 
bows; but, the tide ebbing, we were obliged 
to retire. The next night, we again pro- 
ceeded to " MynheerV house, who seemed 
to consider it the last time they should see 
us, "Tomorrow/' he observed, " we shall 
all be chez nous" When the tide had 
risen within a few feet of its utmost 
height ; Hunter and myself got on board 
the same vessel as before, and made se- 
veral preparations, that there might be no 
delay or confusion, when she floated. So 
soon as all was ready, we ran to the other 
two, with the joyful information ; on our 
way thither, Hunter expressed some doubt, 
which proved nothing but an untimely 
difference of opinion; the exact state of 
the vessel I represented to Whitehurst and 


MaDsell, who, always ready to run any 
risk, rather than suffer the slightest chance 
of success to escape, coincided with me in 
the propriety of making the attempt ; Hun- 
ter, belieying it useless, declined attending. 
Nevertheless, we three instantly repaired 
on board, let slip the stem fasts, and be- 
gan to heave upon the bow hawser. Each 
wave, as it rolled in, lifted the vessel, and, 
having hove a taut strain, she crept sea- 
ward about a foot every rise, falling upon 
the sand, with a shock almost sufficient to 
drive the mast through her bottom. We 
exerted every nerve, and had got her out 
about ten fathoms, when, to our mortifica- 
tion the tide receded faster than we could 
heave a head ; soon after, she became im* 
moveable. On jumping ashore. Hunter 
rejoined us, and, in justice I should add, 
was exceedingly distressed at his previous 
decision, as the result proved that his ad- 
ditional strength would have enabled us 
to get to sea. We were thus obliged to 
return to the "Cat." In the morning, 
Winderkins intreated us to remain quiet, 
as various rumours, relative to the moving 


of the vessel, were circulating ; some attri- 
buting it to the unusual height of the 
tides, whilst others confidently asserted 
that an attempt had been made to steal 
her. This dispute was productive of no 
other evil, than an order to haul the ves- 
sels higher up ; that, however, was suffi- 
cient to deprive us of all hope of getting 
away from Blankenberg until the embargo 
was taken off; we, therefore, consulted 
upon other means, when Madame Derikre 
agreed to go to Bruges, and advise with a 
friend of her's, named Moitier, with whom 
she had before been leagued, in unlawful 
practices respecting conscripts. To guard 
against treachery on his part, she was in- 
structed in the following tale: — **A young 
Englishman, late a prisoner of war, is con- 
cealed at Flushing, and offers jfSO to any 
one who will land him in England, or 
cause him to be put on board an English 
vessel." In the event of succeeding, my 
plan was to get away, and return in the 
night to carry off my comrades ; but they, 
unwilling that I should leave them, pro- 
posed that Mansell should be the one to 


effect thiSy believing, that with his smooth 
face, he might pass, in disguise, for a girl. 
Moitier, at first delighted at this new 
source of acquiring wealth, readily assent- 
ed, but was afterwards intimidated by the 
apprehension of this Englitshman being a 
spy of the French government, and, as he 
was at that time under its particular ** sur- 
veillance," for other illegal deeds, declined 
interfering for the present. A few days 
elapsed without hearing any thing further 
upon the subject, when Madame Derikre 
was again despatched to him ; she re* 
turned with the information that he would 
be at the " Cat" in a day or two. In the 
mean time Winderkins was reconnoitring 
east and west, ignorant of her having 
consulted Moitier. In fact, all parties 
were fequally desirous of forwarding our 
views, and, therefore, the more anxious to 
prevent our quitting this part of Flanders. 
On the 11th we wrote a letter to the 
commander-in-chief, off Flushing, and 
gave it to Winderkins, who was desired to 
offer a bribe to any one who would put it 
on. board an English ship ; but we have 


no reason to believe it reached its desti* 

On the 12th v^e again sent Madame 
Derikre to Moitier, who now consented to 
go immediately to Flushing, and make an 
agreement with a smuggler, promising infor- 
mation on the subject in a very few days. 
Our hopes being thus kept continually alive 
by new projects, without any definitive ar- 
rangement, it was again debated whether we 
should remain in the loft or march into 
Holland : the former was determined on 
until the result of Moitier's trip to Flushing 
should be known; our present comparative 
security being preferable to a dangerous 
uncertainty, particularly as we were con- 
vinced that it was the interest, as well as 
the most anxious desire of all our friends, 
to effect our departure. On the 14th, we 
were overjoyed to learn, from Winderkins, 
that the embargo was taken off, and the 
vessels all preparing for sea. This joy, 
however, was not of long duration ; for, on 
going to Blankenberg the next evening, we 
found, that not a vessel had been launched, 
and that the permission to go to sea, was 


but a '^ruse de guerre/' to entrap the 
seamen required for the navy. Winderkins, 
alarmed at our presence^ requested us im- 
mediately to retreat to the country, for the 
whole of the police were out, lying in am- 
bush for the sailors. In order to insure our 
safety, and to give the signal to disperse, if 
necessary, he marched on before, through 
bye paths, until we regained the " Cat." 

On the 16th, he sent word, that, the five 
seamen having been taken, the extra police 
was withdrawn. The night being very 
dark, we ventured down, and found that 
some of the vessels had been to sea, but 
were replaced in their former positions. 
The following night, knowing the tide 
would rise gradually higher, the jaunt was 
repeated. But the recent circumstance of 
one having dragged her anchors, as was 
supposed, induced them to obey the 
commandant's order. At this time we 
learnt, that M oitier was gone from Flush- 
ing to Holland, determined to find a 
smuggler who woiild assist this young 
Englishman, for he was still ignorant of 
our number. On the 25th, Winderkins, 


having been daily pressed for the fulfil- 
ment of his engagement, to find a fisher- 
man to take us off, but which he had as 
often evaded under one frivolous pretext 
or other, was obliged to confess that all 
his endeavours had been hitherto unavail- 
ing, and that he at length despaired of 
success. It was now evident that we 
must depend upon our own exertions 
alone, to gain possession of a vessel, if we 
persevered in the attempt to embark at 
Blankenberg. He, however, undertook to 
continue on the look-out, whilst we seized a 
boat : this, indeed, was a very important 
service ; he was a sergeant of the national 
guard, and frequently on duty at Blanken- 
berg; consequently, not only the less likely 
to be suspected, but able occasionally to 
give a turn to the conversation at the fort, 
which might otherwise excite increased 
vigilance. We, therefore, gave him for past 
services, and as a retaining fee, a bill of 
jS15, instead of the j^30, which, with 
what he had alrea'dy received, amounted to 
about £\1. He expressed his gratitude, 
and vowed to deserve it. A few days 


elapsed iD this state of uncertainty, during 
which, we occasionally received messages 
from both Bruges and Blankenberg, serving 
to keep us in continual expectation of the 
morrow bringing forth something decisive. 
On the 2d of February, having again jour- 
neyed to Blankenberg, we found the tide 
to rise within a very few feet of two of the 
vessels. The following night, the excur- 
sion was repeated, when the same vessels 
were lying with their bows awash, but 
there was not sufficient water to float 
them. We were now completely puzzled 
how to act : could cash have been raised, 
we had resolved upon marching into Hol- 
land, for the thoughts of continuing any 
longer in a state of inactivity, became iu<« 
supportable. Money, however, <^ould not 
be procured ; we were, therefore, compelled 
to remain in the loft. 

Scarcely a day passed without some- 
thing occurring to revive our hopes, until 
the 17th, when Winderkins again appeared, 
and told us the evening tide would float 
one of the vessels; we, therefore, at a 
proper hour, went to his house, and thenoe 


to the beach, most anxiously watching the 
roll of every wave ; but, as if fortune had 
doomed us to be the shuttle-cock of her 
caprice, our hopes appeared excited only to 
put to proof Qur patience and perseverance; 
the water receded, without reaching a 
single vessel. Very bad weather setting 
in, attended with heavy falls of snow and 
hail, rendered night excursions to any dis- 
tance, almost impracticable. 

Madame Derikre proposed our being 
below at night, for the covering of the loft 
being nothing but open tiling, through 
which the wind blew from three sides, we 
were frequently benumbed with cold, par- 
ticularly as we dare not move about, to 
take exercise. This offer was readily ac- 
cepted, one keeping watch at the door all 
night, regularly relieved, and occasionally 
assisted by our friend Fox. Being now 
more comfortably lodged, we forsook the 
loft entirely; occupying, in the day, a place 
about eight feet by four, with a door open- 
ing directly upon the wood. Many schemes 
were suggested, but none sufficiently feasi* 
Uq to induoe us to shift our quajrter«, 


during the present inclement weather. 
One project was^ that I should go, in dis- 
guise, to Moitier: and I consulted Ma- 
dame Derikre, who insisted on apprising 
him of my intention , that he might not be 
absent. Moitier, however, declared he 
would have nothing to do with the afiair if 
I attempted to approach his house ; pro- 
mising, at the same time, to give me a 
conference at the '* Cat/' in the course of 
the week. The week, however, expired, 
without our seeing him ; but a message was 
brought to the effect that he had again been 
to Flushing, and that we should see him 
erelong. On the 1st of March, Winderkins 
came, and assured us, that every thing had 
been so long quiet at Blankenberg, that 
the fishermen were gradually n^lecting to 
haul the vessels up, and that he was cer- 
tain the next spring tide would float 
several. Upon going, the following night, 
we found them situated as he had de- 
scribed, though none were yet within reach 
of the water. On the 3d, we waited until 
the tide began to ebb, it, however, only 
broke against the bows of two or three ; 


but as it had considerably gained, and 
would still increase the two next tides, we 
congratulated ourselves upon the happy 
prospect of the speedy termination of our 
troubles, and the final accomplishment of 
our hopes. With heart elate^ as in the 
moment of victory, on the night of the 4th 
of March, I niade my thirteenth, and last 
trip to Blankenberg, and, leaving my com- 
rades at " Mynheer's" house, went with 
him to the beach to reconnoitre; when, 
finding several vessels nearly afloat, we 
returned to our party, with the joyful 
information. Furnished with provisions, 
and a lantern, we took a friendly leave of 
Winderkins' family, proceeded silently to 
the water's edge, and jumped on board 
the easternmost vessel, in the pleasing con- 
fidence of having at length evaded the 
vigilance of the enemy, and of being on 
the eve of restoration to our native soil. 
The wind was fresh and squally from the 
W. N. W., with a good deal of swell; the 
moon, although only three days after the 
full, was so obscured by dark clouds, that 
the night was very favourable for our pur- 



pose. The vessel was moored by five 
hawsers ; two a head, and three astern ; it 
was arranged, that Whitehurst and Man- 
sell should throw over-board the latter. 
Hunter and myself the former; this was 
preferred to cutting them. We had been 
so long in Flanders, and received such 
protection from the natives, that all harsh 
feeling which might have existed towards 
an enemy, was so mellowed into compas- 
sion for their sufferings under the Corsican 
yoke, that we were unwilling to injure 
one of them, and therefore had determined, 
if in our power, to send back the craft, 
which, being a fishing ^^ schuyt," might 
probably be the only support of an indi- 
gent family. Whilst Whitehurst and Man- 
sell were executing the duty allotted to 
them, Hunter and myself got ready the 
foresail, and paid* over-board one of the 
hawsers. The tide now rolled in, the 
vessel floated, and we hove her out to 
within about four fathoms of her buoy. 
Whitehurst and myself being ready to cut 

* Let run fathom after fathom. 


the other hawser^ and hoist the sail, Hun- 
ter went to the helm, when he found the 
rudder was not shipped, but lying on the 
poop. We instantly ran aft, and got it 
over the stern, but the vessel pitched so 
heavily, that it was not possible to ship 
the lower pintle. We were now appre* 
hensive of the total failure of the attempt ; 
for, to go to sea without a rudder, would 
have been madness, and being nearly un- 
der the battery, we were in momentary 
expectation of being fired into. Several 
minutes were passed in this state of anxi- 
ety and danger, still persevering in the 
attempt to ship the rudder, but at length; 
finding it impossible, without a guide be- 
low, and feeling that our only hope, was 
dependant upon the success of this im- 
portant effort, in the excitement of the 
moment, I jumped over board; at the 
same instant, the vessel springing a little 
a head, and the sea washing me astern, it 
was not without the greatest exertion I 
could swim up to get hold of the stem 
post. Hunter, seeing that I was dashed 
fix)m her by every wave, threw me a rope ; 

M 2 


this I made fast round my waist, and 
then, with some trouble, succeeded in 
shipping the rudder. The effort of swim- 
ming and getting on board again, although 
assisted by my comrades, so completely 
exhausted me, that I lay on my back for 
some time, incapable of moving a limb; 
but at length, rallying, I went forward to 
help hoist the foresail, whilst Hunter cut 
the hawser, and then ran to the helm. 
The sail was no sooner up than the vessel 
sprang off, as if participating in our impa- 
tience, and glorying in our deliverance; 
such, however, is the uncertainty and 
vanity of all human projects, that at the 
very moment when we believed ourselves 
in the arms of liberty, and our feelings 
were worked up« to the highest pitch of 
exultation, a violent shock suddenly ar- 
rested our progress. We flew aft, and 
found that a few fathoms of the starboard 
quarter hawser having been accidentally 
left on board, as it ran out, a kink was form- 
ed near the end, which, getting jambed be- 
tween the head of the rudder and tlie 
stern post, had brought the vessel up all 


standing ; the knife was instantly applied, 
but the hawser was so excessively taut 
and hard, that it was scarcely through 
one strand ere the increasing squall had 
swung her round off upon the beach. At 
this critical juncture, as the forlorn hope, 
we jumped out to seize another vessel, 
which was still afloat ; when Winderkins, 
seeing a body of men running upon the 
top of the sand hills, in order to surround 
usy gave the alarm : we immediately made 
a resolute rush directly across, leaving 
our knapsacks, and every thing but the 
clothes on our backs, in the vessel; the 
summit was gained just in time to slip 
over on the other side unseen. We ran 
along the hills towards the village for 
about a hundred yards, when, mistaking a 
broad ditch for a road, I fell in, but scram- 
bled out on the opposite side. Mansell, 
who was close at my heels, thinking that I 
had jumped in on purpose, followed ; this 
obliged the others to jump also. Having 
r^ained the " Cat," we related the heart- 
rending disaster to Madame Derikre. 
Fearing, from the many articles left in the 


▼68861, that some of them would give a 
clae to our late abode, and be the means 
of causing a strict search, she was desired 
to destroy every thing that could lead to 
discovery, or suspicion; then taking all 
the bread in the house, and leaving Man- 
sell there, the rest immediately set out for 
Windmill Woodj on the other side of 
Bruges, where we arrived a little before 
day-light. It had been previously agreed, 
that Mansell should go in disguise, as a 
girl, to Moitier, and detail the whole truth, 
for he was still ignorant of there being 
four of us. Mansell was to procure a 
pair of shoes for each, some provisions, 
as much cash as he could raise, and, in 
his girFs dress, bring these articles out to 
us ; should he succeed in this, our inten- 
tion was to quit Flanders, and walk 
through France, and Germany, to Trieste, 
in the gulph of Venice; for, having pre- 
viously learnt that the entire coast of 
Holland was guarded with as great strict- 
ness as that of Flanders, we had abandoned 
the idea of penetrating into that country. 
Although, before this catastrophe it was 


never definitively arranged that Mansell 
should be the one who was to be intro- 
duced to Moitier, for the purpose of getting 
away, and returning in the night. to take 
off the others; yet, knowing from his 
youth, that he was incapable of under- 
taking the journey at present meditated ; 
we were now unanimous that he should 
profit of this chance. 

Not having had time to dry our clothes 
at the " Cat," we were in a most deplo- 
rable state, shivering with cold, and wet 
to the skin ; the tails of our jackets, solid 
boards of ice, and not a shoe amongst us 
worthy the name. In this wood we re- 
mained three days, each succeeding hour 
seeming to redouble the sufferings of the 
last; for, besides bodily exposure, the 
knowledge that we must fly the coast, 
and traverse the continent at this incle- 
ment season w^ithout a certainty of ade- 
quate means, excited the keenest anxiety. 
As Mansell did not appear with the pro- 
mised supplies, we concluded, he had 
either forgotten the situation, or was taken 
prisoner; and, being apprehensive that 


Moitier had proved treacherouH, I re* 
preached myself for .having consented to 
expose him to this danger. The stock of 
provisions was now almost expended, and, 
being incapable of marching any distance 
for want of shoes, it was resolved to re- 
turn to the vicinity of the ^* Cat," in the 
hope of learning the fate of Mansell, and 
being there supplied with necessaries for 
our projected journey. We set out at 
eleven o'clock, and, reaching a neighbour- 
ing wood, about one A. M., halted to lis- 
ten ; being apprehensive that if any article 
had been found in the vessel to create 
suspicion of the ^^Gat," that gens d'armes 
would be laying in ambush ready to but- 
cher us. it was arranged, that White- 
hurst and Hunter should remain under the 
hedge of the orchard, whilst I approached 
the house ; and, in the event of my meet- 
ing with such numbers, as to render their 
assistance unavailing, I was to give the 
alarm, and they were to fly, regardless of 
me. With firm, yet cautious step, I ad- 
vanced, crept through a gap in the hedge, 
and entered the orchard, looking around, 


and listening like the timid deer, for the 
approach of the savage hound, whose 
thirst nothing but blood can satiate : start- 
ing, as by electricity, at a cold touch on my 
hand, I involuntarily threw myself into an 
attitude of defence, but seeing nothings 
and judging that coward fancy had created 
this alarm, I again advanced, when I per- 
ceived by my side the dog Fox, whose 
cold mark of recognition in the dark, had 
been the cause of it, and who, trotting be- 
fore me to the house, every now and then 
returned, as if to invite, and assure me 
that no enemy was near. Having reached 
the window, I gently tapped ; Madame 
Derikre opened it, begged me not to come 
in, and sent the dog to look out. My first 
inquiry was, of the doubtful fate of Man- 
sell ; she said, that she had escorted him to 
Moitier's, disguised as a girl, had left him 
there, and had not seen him since. She 
then related, that, soon after her return, the 
house was surrounded and searched most 
minutely by thirty-six gens d'arnies and po- 
lice officers, without their finding any thing 
to corroborate their suspicious. During our 


reBidence in the loft, we had procured fire 
sticks, and put spike nails, with a sharp 
edge and point into the ends, to use as 
weapons of defence; four of these were 
taken in the vessel, the fifth we had given 
to young Derikre, who incautiously left it 
by the fireside; fortunately, it was not 
noticed, or it would have been suffi- 
cient proof to implicate the whole fomily. 
She likewise related, that the lantern, 
having been known to belong to Winder- 
kins, his house was also searched, and 
both of them were taken before the police. 
He confessed that the lantern was his pro- 
perty, but swore he had lent it to Madame 
Derikre ; this, she acknowledged, stating, 
that she had put it out of the door in lieu 
of her lamp, sent to be repaired, and that 
some one had stolen it The baker, who 
was also taken before the mayor, proved 
that the consumption of bread at the 
" Cat," had been more than doubled, for 
several weeks; this, however, was evaded 
by a declaration of an unusual increase of 
custom, to which she could safdy swear, 
without risk of perjury. This explanation 


did not entirely clear her of suspicion, the 
house was again surrounded, and searched 
on the second night, but with no better 

Being, therefore, in apprehension of sur- 
prise, she requested me not to come too 
near, and agreed to go to Moitier, in order 
to borrow some njioncy for us, and procure 
shoes. I described to her the spot near 
which we intended to conceal ourselves ; 
and then, provided with some bread, gin^ 
and cold potatoes, returned to my com- 
rades. We now retreated to a thick wood, 
about three miles to the westward, and 
remained there without hearing from the 
Derikres until noon of the 10th, when a 
rustling amongst the bushes, set us all 
upon the "qui vive." I crept forward, 
and, having listened attentively for a few 
moments, to my great joy perceived it was 
occasioned by our faithful friend, Fox^ 
who fa\vned upon us, apparently as much 
elated at the meeting as oursdlves. On 
going with him in the direction whence 
he came, I found his young master bring- 
ing cheese and ^ggs ; we had been so long 


together, that he became really attached 
to U8y and, on the recital of onr hardships 
and sufferings, he was so struck with the 
▼iew of our camp, which was fortified with 
twigs made into basket work, that the 
kind-hearted boy burst into a flood of 
tears. We learnt from him, that his mo- 
ther had been to Bruges, but that not 
finding Moitier at home, she was afraid to 
say a word to his wife. She had, how- 
ever, seen Mansell, who was concealed in 
the house, he told her that he had not 
been able to procure money, and that he 
had gone out to Windmill Woodyhnt that 
his search for us had been ineffectual ; she 
also learnt that Moitier was gone into Hol- 
land, and was expected back in the course 
of the week. All this the boy related with 
as much feeling as if he thought our situa- 
tion the most deplorable and wretched 
that human nature could endure ; he pro- 
mised to bring us bread, and eggs, so long 
as we remained in the neighbourhood, but 
thought it much better to be in prison 
than to perish, with cold, in the woods. 
In order to recompense him for his 


trouble, and to insure his future assistance. 
I made bim a present of my watcb, tbe 
only valuable I possessed. Two days 
more were passed in this basket fort, when 
we were alarmed by the approach of an 
old peasant ; well knowing that the Flem- 
ings entertained the utmost horror of the 
conscription, we passed ourselves oflf for 
conscripts: the old man seemed to sym- 
pathize in our distresses, and promised to 
bring us a loaf of bread ; but, as it would 
have been imprudent to have suffered him 
to depart, and to have waited his return, 
he was kept in conversation until nearly 
dark, and, when he left us, we broke up 
the camp and fled. Scarcely had we gone 
a mile, following each other at some little 
distance, when Fox and his master were 
discovered : the latter advised us to go to 
a thick wood about two miles east of the 
house, and gave information of Moitier's 
return. Soon after taking up this posi- 
tion, the weather set in intensely cold, and, 
literally clad in armour of ice, we lay 
listening to the whistling wind, and shiver- 
ing with exposure to the chilling blast, 


which not only defied repose, but threaten- 
ed the most calamitous* effects; indeed, 
the limbs were sometimes so benumbed, 
that it became absolutely indispensable to 
shake and twist ourselves about, to pro- 
mote the necessary circulation of the blood. 
Nor did there appear any prospect of the 
termination of this misery, for, as the 
black and ponderous clouds passed swiftly 
over us, the wind increased, the hail beat 
furiously down, and the trees trembled* 
until the raging violence of the storm 
seemed to threaten the uprooting of the 
yery wood we occupied. In this exposed 
situation, with variable, though piercing 
cold weather, we remained until the 15th, 
when the boy, with the help of Fox, again 
traced us out, and said, his mother had 
seen, and detailed to Moitier our exact 
situation ; he pretended surprise, declaring 
that Mausell had never given him reason 
to suppose that he had companions, and; 
lamenting at the 'same time his inability 
to be of service at present, promised to 
assist in a day or two. This affectation of 
surprise, and assertion of Mansell's silence, 


was no doubt intended to detain us in the 
neighbourhood, by keeping alive our hopes 
of aid, until he saw what profit he was 
likely to make with Mansell, little caring 
what severe reflections he was thereby 
casting upon the lad s character ; whatever 
may have been the fact, we could obtain 
neither shoes, nor supplies of any kind to 
enable us to depart, although kept in daily 
expectation of them. Whitehurst now 
suflfered so severely from illness, that 
doubts arose as to the possibility of his 
continuing much longer in this state of ex- 
posure, and, had not his complaint taken a 
favourable turn, his patience and fortitude 
must soon have yielded to stem and^ abso* 
lute necessity. 

In addition to our anxiety for the 
sufferings of our companion, a degree 
of gloomy restlessness pervaded every 
thought, auguring nothing but evil; but 
whether these feelings proceeded from 
pain and despondency, or bor^ any affi* 
nity to that instinctive foresight which 
teaches the tenants of the forest to pre- 
pare for tempestuous weather^ I will not 


determine. With this presentimeDt, how- 
ever, we prevailed on the hoy to bring a 
horse-clothj and as neither of us had a 
second coat, it proved one of the greatest 
comforts I had ever experienced ; indeed, 
it so renovated our strength that we were 
more firmly bent than ever upon marching 
into Germany ; but the increasing severity 
of the season confined our attention to pre- 
sent preservation, rather than heedlessly 
running into greater dangers. The dark 
and cheerless clouds, upon which our eyes 
were continually fixed^ soon discharged 
flakes of snow in such profusion, as to 
threaten our being cut off from the '* Cat;" 
but fortunately, to prevent the too frequent 
passing and repassing, Madame Derikre 
had sent us a stock of bread, gin, and a 
little meat, which were economized to the 
best advantage. At the conoimencement of 
the fall of snow, we moved about the 
wood, and, finding a hollow, from which a 
tree had been dug, we plucked a quantity 
of twigs and laid in it, so as to make a 
dry bed ; the horse cloth was then spread 
loosely over, propped up by a; stick in the 


centre, fastened down with pegs, and dead 
leaves strewed round the edge, thus form- 
ing a kind of tent; one comer was left 
open for the free admission of air, and for 
our own entrance and exit. Here we lay 
in such comfort, that the sensation ex- 
perienced can only be imagined by com- 
paring them to turning into a warm bed 
after being nearly frozen to death. The 
snow falling all night, in the morning our 
nest was covered nearly a foot deep, and 
scarcely rose sufficiently above the suri- 
rounding white surface, to indicate the 
place of our concealment. It being almost 
impossible to travel in such weather, we 
determined patiently to wait its breaking 
up ; unless, indeed, Moitier, in the mean 
time, should furnish us with sufficient sup- 
plies to justify a fresh movement. Very 
little change occurred until the 19th, when 
we again despatched a messenger to Bruges, 
with a note to Mansell, but, as we received 
DO answer, it was, doubtless, intercepted ; 
it being Moitier's policy to prevent commu- 
nication between us. A sudden thaw 
almost inundated the wood, and it was, 



with much difficulty, that the boy could 
get to our retreat with provisions. On the 
morning of the 21st, he came, almost out of 
breath, with information, that a party of 
men were again about to surround the 
house, andj it was supposed, to search the 
adjoining woods. Upon this, we instantly 
broke up our camp, threw the twigs in all 
directions, and ran through the woods a 
mile due east. A ditch, about eighteen 
feet wide, now presented itself before us ; 
luckily, at a little distance, was a piece of 
timber lying across, upon which we passed 
without a moment's delay, and being too 
well versed in military tactics to leave the 
bridge for the enemy, it was drawn over, 
and thrown into a hedge. 

Our hasty retreat was continued about 
three miles, when reaching an almost im- 
penetrable thicket, we crept in and hid 
ourselves. In this thicket we lay some 
time, expecting every moment the approach 
of the pursuers ; but, as we occupied a 
very favourable position for retreat, the 
surrounding woods being intersected with 
wide ditches, one of which was imme- 


diately in our rear, we were in no very 
great apprehension for the issue. In the 
midst of our consultation, a distant noise 
was indistinctly heard, which seemed gra- 
dually to approach, until the actual moticm 
of the bushes put an end to all doubt ; 
we instantly jumped up, ready to fly, when 
a dog was discovered drawing near, and 
not far behind, some person penetrating 
through the thick wood ; but, ere we had 
time to decide, our faithful friend Fox 
burst to view, fawning and curling himself 
in silent congratulation, as if sensible of 
a narrow escape : almost at the same mo- 
ment came his aflfectionate master, who 
brought information, that a body of gens 
d'armes only halted at his mother's, on 
their way to Blankenberg, but fancying 
they were come to make another search, 
he immediately ran off to give us timely 
notice. The keen lad, guided by the sa- 
gacious Fox, had followed our footsteps, 
until he came to the broad ditch, when 
finding the bridge gone, and suspecting we 
had pulled it over, he had run round a 
considerable distance ; having so done, he 



returned to the opposite bank, and con- 
tinued hunting us up. We immediately 
retraced our steps, replaced the bridge, 
and marched back to our " trou/' which 
was rendered as comfortable as before. 
This little trip, we fancied, did us good, 
from the exercise it afforded. A heavy 
fall of rain during two days, prevented the 
boy from getting to us; and, apprehensions 
were now entertained, that, from the over- 
flowing of the ditches, and almost inun- 
dated state of the woods, we should be 
compelled, by hunger, to expose ourselves 
in the day, although, in preference, we had 
resolved to endure the utmost extremity of 
privation. Indeed, we already felt the 
want of food ; our fare was seldom more 
than bread, sometimes potatoes, and occa- 
sionally eggs, though a few days previous, 
we had had a little meat, the bones of 
which were thrown away ; for these, I 
now searched^ and felt delight in finding 
one, which I ground down with a canine 
voracity, reproaching myself for my pre- 
vious extravagance. At length, hunger 
and wet forced us to quit the camp, and» 


about ten at night, approaching the '^ Cat/' 
two of us went in, dried our clothes, and 
got something to eat, whilst the third, with 
Fox, kept watch at the door. The saga- 
city of this dog was really wonderful, 
Madame Derikre assured us, that, latterly, 
this faithful animal, as if he knew our 
enemies, growled at every gen d'arme he 
saw, although he had been in the habit of 
seeing, and being caressed by them almost 
every day of his life. She again said, that 
Moitier had promised to assist us the mo- 
ment Mansell was gone. Our hopes being 
somewhat enlivened by these repeated 
assurances, it was determined to wait a few 
days longer, could we survive the cold, 
to see the result of Mansell's departure. 
We now ventured to pay nightly visits to 
the ** Cat," in order to procure provisions, 
taking each time a different direction, to 
avoid making a path. One night. White- 
hurst^ exhausted with illness and fatigue, 
while crossing a ditch, fell in, and swing- 
ing under an old tree that overhung the 
water, it was with some difficulty we 
could extricate him. After this accident,. 


we always left bim in the nest ; but Hunter 
and myself continued our nightly excur- 
sions to the '* Gat," and found its inmates 
at each succeeding visits more and more 
determined to persevere in rendering us 
assistance ; indeed, so much had we grown 
upon their esteem, and so intense was 
the interest excited by the extremity of 
our sufferings, that, on one occasion, poor 
old Cocher, the servant, offered to pawn 
even her gold cross and heart, and all she 
possessed, to Moitier, if he would but be- 
friend the poor ^' Englishers." About this 
time, Madame Derikre's visits to Moitier 
were so frequent, that he, at length, forbad 
them. She, however, learnt that Mansell 
had embarked for England, with a smug- 
gler-i in an open boat fifteen feet in length ; 
this was a great point, and our hopes were 
once more turned towards the coast, in the 
full expectation that he would return in 
the night, with a boat to take us off; but 
day after day passed without intelligence. 
Moitier not having fulfilled his promise 
of sending us supplies, so soon as Mansell 
was gone; and, indeed, seeming to have for- 


bidden any further communicatiou between 
us, by refusinjg to admit Madame Derikre ; 
I determined, in spite of his previous 
threat, to have nothing to do with the 
aflfair, if I attempted to approach his 
bouse, to go to Bruges, and see him my- 
self; nor was this a hasty, though then 
an unconcerted resolution; for, notwith- 
standing we had been nearly a month in 
this dreary ' wilderness, exposed to the 
severest weather, bur clothes worn to 
thresids, — notwithstanding my comrades 
had hitherto evinced no impatience at the 
doubtful resiilt of our protracted sufferings, 
which they would have seen multiplied to 
the utmost extremity of human endurance, 
rather than hslve been taken ; and, not- 
withstanding my 'confidence in their per- 
severance ; yet so strong was their repug- 
nance to separatiob, and my belief of their 
disapjiroving of the attempt, that I judged 
it more prudent la take this step, without 
consulting them, than to enter into' a dis- 
cussion which might create an unpleasant 
difference of opinion ; and, as it could not 
involve them in danger^ the disgrace, and 


consequent punishment attendant on fai^ 
lure, would fall solely on myself. With 
this view of the measure, on the night of 
the 31 St of March, so soon as Hunter 
relieved me in watch, at the door, and we 
were ready to return to the woods, I com- 
municated to him my plans, adding, that if 
they neither saw, nor heard from me the 
next day, they might rest assured, I 
had fallen into the hands of the enemy, 
and might then act for themselves. He 
in vain endeavoured to shake my deter- 
mination, but, as I was convinced of the 
feasibility of the project, and had taken 
my resolution, we shook hands, and parted. 
After making the necessary arrangements 
with Madame Derikre, I lay down in the 
stable, with my friend Fox at the door, 
who seemed to watch with increased vigi- 
lance, as if aware of the importance of 
his trust. My bed, in this solitary cell, was 
certainly not one of roses, for, indepen- 
dently of the anxiety arising from the 
fear of surprise^ I at first felt something 
like compunction, at not having previously 
consulted my companions ; nor was I with- 


out apprehension, that they might suspect 
I intended to desert them ; and, should 
any thing occur to cause the capture of 
either party during our separation, the 
report of such a disgraceful act might be 
circulated, without my ever being able to 
prove its fallacy : but the evident necessity 
for some decided step, and the conscious 
rectitude of my intention, presently dis- 
sipated such thoughts, and created a cheer- 
ing presentiment that my plans would lead 
to some favourable result. At length, my 
mind became wholly absorbed in the 
consolation which this feeling afforded, and 
I lay meditating schemes for the guidance 
of the future, till about four o'clock, 
scarcely able to close my eyes: at that 
hour, I gently tapped at Madame Derikre's 
window ; she immediately equipped me in 
the same dress I had worn to Blankenberg 
on the 15th of December, and furnished 
me with a carpenter's rule, line, and chalk, 
&c. After taking some refreshment, we 
set out " t6te-a-t6te," for Bruges. At dawn 
of day, we separated, keeping about a 
hundred yards apart, and entered the 


towUy just as the labourers were going to 
work. In passing the guard at the gates, 
I was chalking, and nibbing out figures 
upon the rule, as if my mind was wholly 
occupied in my business. Although I did 
not turn my head, I could, nevertheless, 
observe, from under my broad brim, two 
gens d armes eyeing me, from head to foot ; 
I, however, trudged on, uninterrupted, fol- 
lowing the guide from street to street, until 
we entered that in which Moitier lived. 
Fortunately not a creature was to be seen ; 
on passing his door, she made a momen- 
tary pause, placing her hand on her hip, 
as a signal to me, and then went on, with- 
out looking behind her. I knocked, and 
asked for ** Monsieur," but he was not at 
home. Upon inquiring for '« Madame,'' 
she appeared ; I told her that my business 
was of such importance, as absolutely to 
require my seeing " Monsieur son epoux ;" 
and, if she would permit it, I wished to 
wait his return. She politely shewed me 
into an apartment, but seeing it to be a 
public waiting-room, and being desirous of 
privacy, I made one or two observations 



remotely bearing upon the purport of my 
visit ; when, finding she entertained no 
suspicion of who I was, I ventured to con- 
gratulate her upon the success her husband 
had met with respecting Mansell ; " M an- 
selle," she emphatically exclaimed, start- 
ing with surprise, and fixing her large 
blaclc eyes upon me. On my bowing most 
respectfully, and repeating — " Oui Man- 
selle, Madame, I learn that by your hus- 
band's kindness, he is restored to the 
bosom of his family;" she, evidently 
much agitated, asked if my name was 
" Boi^e;"on my replying, "Yes, Madame, 
I • am that unfortunate wanderer," she 
seized me by the hand, and immediately 
conducted me to the attics. I happily suc- 
ceeded in interesting her in my behalf, by 
so detailing my su^rings and disappoint- 
ments, that she remained for some time 
immersed in tears, every now and then ex- 
claiming, with genuine sensibility, " Pauvre 
enfant ; pauvre malheureux.^' Finding 
now, that I had gained another friend, 
whose influence with her husband was of 
some importance, I endeavoured to confirm 


her in the interest she felt for me, by hold- 
ing forth the pecuniary advantages to be 
reaped by assisting us, and represented 
the attendant risk as too trifling to have 
any weight with so generous a mind as 
that of her husband. After some inquiries 
about Mansell, she left me to my reflec- 
tions; and, although I was not without 
apprehension, from Moitier's having so fre- 
quently broken his word with Madame 
Derikre respecting us ; yet I was, never- 
theless determined, that something decisive 
should be the result of my trip. At the 
expiration of half an hour, Moitier intro- 
duced himself, and commenced the con- 
versation with relating difficulties innu- 
merable; he represented the chance of 
detection in favouring the escape of prison- 
ers^ greater with him than other people, as 
he was under the particular " surveillance*' 
of the police; so much so, that his very 
footsteps were watched ; and, liiat my pre- 
sence in his house, if discovered, would be 
the cause of the confiscation of all his 
property, for which it was impossible I 
could make any adequate compensation. 


Suspecting that these difficulties were 
started to draw from^me an offer, and also 
to enhance the value of his intended ser- 
vices, I came immediately to the point, 
and proposed his putting us into some 
place of temporary security, under cover, 
until he could cause us to be landed in 
England, for which, I offered him one hun- 
dred and fifty pounds, in bills, payable on 
demand. He replied, that he had been 
put to considerable expense on account of 
Mansel], had not yet received a stiver, 
and had trusted solely to his honour; that 
if he now undertook this affair, *' et que 
tout manquoit," he should be ruined ; and 
that, therefore, however willing he might 
be to serve us, he was necessarily obliged 
to decline having any thing to do with 
it. He questioned me about M ansell ; 
when I convinced him of the respectability 
of his connexions, and that his bills would 
be honoured, he appeared to waver; by 
this, I concluded, he had no objection to 
the undertaking, provided he was certain 
of payment; but, as I had no means of 
giving security, I endeavoured to excite 


his confidence, and proposed various plans; 
none of which seeming to please him, I 
requested he would leave me to myself for 
a few minutes, and I would, in the interim, 
turn over in my mind, other schemes ; he 
consented, and left me. My object for re« 
questing this suspension of the n^otiation, 
was, to send him to his wife, whom I had 
been informed, by Madame Derikre, he 
always consulted upon any important mat- 
ter, and, as she had appeared disposed 
to be friendly towards me, it was a " ruse" 
I thought worth the experiment In about 
half an hour, Madame Moitier brought me 
up some coffee, gave me no hopes o£ her 
husband's assistance, but told me kindly, 
that I should remain there till the evening. 
I thanked her, and again endeavoured to 
work upon her feelings, by highly colour- 
ing our sufferings, and impressivdy repre- 
senting the extreme distress to, which we 
were reduced, by her husband's refusal to 
assist us : she excused him, by pleading his 
poverty, and the risk of ruin ; this I treated as 
very improbable, enlarging with emphasis, 
on the paramount duty of an afiectionate 


mother, to encourage her husband to lay 
up in store for his children, and that to 
decline so favourable an opportunity as 
the present, was to do them an injury. 
To every thing I said, she listened with 
apparent interest, and, promising to do~all 
she could for me, retired. Soon after, 
Moitier came up, with " bien fsLch6, vraimen t 
chagrin^, m6me au desespoirl" Until this 
moment I never doubted his intention to 
further our views, and had flattered my* 
self, that, although he might not choose to 
take an open, and active part, still he 
would prove the moving power, and that 
reaching his house ioi safety, would prove 
the way to final success; nevertheless, 1 
persevered, as if I doubted • not, attri- 
buting our detention in this neighbourhood 
to the hopes his promises had excited. 
He assigned very cogent reasons for de- 
clining his aid, though he frankly admitted 
the proffered remuneration to be most 
liberal ; but the dread of banishment from 
the district, as cutting off his professional 
resources, he being " Notaire publique," 
seemed to outweigh the temptation. He, 


however, listened with intense interest to 
the recital of our adventures ; when I 
seized the opportunity of appealing to his 
common sense, whether it was probable 
that officers, who had acted as we had 
done, throughout, could be so base, so in- 
consistent, as finally to tarnish British 
int^rity, by refusing to fulfil 'the very en- 
gagement which had restored them to their 
country. Nevertheless, if it was more 
satisfactory to him, I added, I was willing 
that he should keep me as an hostage, and 
convey the other two to England ; and 
when the money was paid, should pro- 
cure me the means of following them. To 
this he objected, from the danger of con- 
cealing me in his house. I then proposed 
his placing me somewhere in the country, 
but he shrugged up his shoulders in reply, 
and paused, in seeming doubt. I asked 
if he would have any objection to go to 
Verdun with bills which I would give him, 
he might there inquire who we were, get 
some of them cashed, and be insured pay- 
ment for the remainder. At this, his 
countenance appeared to brighten, he con- 


sented to reconsider the matter^ and re- 
tired. About two hours had elapsed in this 
state of harrassing uncertainty, when he 
came up again, and declared it was utterly 
impossible he could secrete three, but 
would not object to take me into his 
house, provided I had no intercourse with 
the others. At this proposal, a sudden 
glow of indignation flushed through my 
veins, which, for the moment, sealed my 
lips, and excited an inclination to turn my 
back upon him, and.stalk out of the house ; 
but, on reflection, I suspected it a mere 
" finesse," to see if I was infamous enough 
to forsake my companions, and, there- 
fore, with some warmth declared, that, 
however disastrous our continuing toge- 
ther might prove, it was my unalterable 
determination to share their fate, — with 
them to be restored to our country, or, 
with them to be enchained in the dun- 
geons of the enemy. Despairing of bring- 
ing him to any decision, I requested the 
loan of a few louis, to enable us to pur- 
chase shoes, and other necessaries for a 
long journey, as we intended to march 



through France and Germany to Trieste, 
and get home by the Mediterranean. For 
a. moment he gazed inrith astonishment, 
and then exclaimed — " Mon Dieu ! quelle 
perseverance." After some further con- 
▼ersation, he desired me not hastily to de- 
party but to return to the woods, and there 
wait a few days ; he would then be able 
to say positively, whether he could assist 
us or not ; at any rate, he would then lend 
us some money. As for that, I replied, 
with an air of indifference, he was as well 
able to lend us money now, as he would 
be. a week hence, and that, if he refused, 
I should, in the evening, join my comrades, 
and immediately proceed on our journey, 
I saw that this kind of ^^ hauteur,'' became 
necessary ; for it was evident his object 
was to gain time, in order to ascertain the 
validity of Mansell's bills, and, satisfied on 
that head, he did not intend letting so good 
a speculation escape. I therefore requested, 
in a tone of respectful firmness, a decided 
answer ; this he declined, and left me. 

Many reasons may be assigned for this 
man's conduct; but, it is probable, the 


prevailing one was, that he thought to 
make a greater profit by thus embarkic^ 
us in detail; it was, howevef, sufficient to 
exonerate Mansell, in my mind, from any sus- 
picion which might have existed, of his not 
having done all that he could for us. About 
two o'clock, Moitier returned, introducing 
Auguste Crens Neirinks. After some 
little preamble, it was agreed, that this 
Flemish " Chevalier d' industrie " should 
find us a place of concealment ; Moitier 
was to go to Verdun, with my bills, to my 
friend Wills, who, I knew, would risk his 
all to serve me ; and, on his return, to hire, 
or purchase, a boat for us. The success of 
my trip being thus complete, the next step 
was to communicate it to Whitehurst and 
Hunter, and get them into town in safety. 
Madame Derikre, whom anxiety to learn 
the result of the interview had detained 
in a neighbouring public-house, was now 
despatched with these auspicious tidings. 
On her arrival, she sent her son into the 
woods, to bring its forlorn inmates to 
Bruges, where they arrived, just before the 
shutting of the gates, and were conducted 

o 2 


by her to the attics of a small uninhabited 
house, in a back street ; here I rejoined 
them after dark. The pleasure one derives 
from success in any laudable undertaking, 
generally increases with reflection ; and, 
in due proportion to the importance of the 
event. On this occasion, my delight was 
gteat indeed; and, if any thing could 
heighten my enjoyment, it was the gra- 
titude my comrades expressed for my 
exertions, in bringing them to this place of 
security, and for the promising prospects 
that now opened upon us. In order to 
prevent any suspicion which might arise 
from intercourse with a house, supposed 
to be uninhabited, a poor friend of the 
owner, was put in to occupy the front 
rooms. The furniture of our apartment, 
consisted of a table, four chairs, and a 
stump bedstead, filled with clean dry 
straw ; this, compared to the sticks, in the 
dirty wet " trou," was a luxury only to be 
appreciated by those, who have experienced 
similar vicissitudes. 

During the absence of Moitier, Neirinks 
and his brother frequently visited us, and 


sent provisions by our fellow lodger. It 
was not until the 10th of April, that we 
were certain of Moitier's departure for 
Verdun. At this time, Neirinks intro- 
duced me to his family, consisting of an 
elderly mother, and her daughters, Mary 
and Pauline, with whom I frequently 
passed the evening, exciting the com- 
miseration of these kind-hearted girls, by 
the relation of my adventures. Moitier 
being now gone with dispatches to Wills, 
and not likely to return for ten days, 
it occurred to me, that I might make an 
eflfort in the interval, to release Moyses, 
who, it' will be recollected, was at Givet. 
Although, at first sight, the idea may ap- 
pear a mere flight of the imagination, it 
led to such delightful reflections, and so 
much in harmony with my feelings towards 
him, that I indulged in them almost with- 
out intermission the whole day, and when 
Neirinks came in the evening, P mentioned 
it to him ; but, finding he did not enter 
into the spirit of the enterprize, with a 
zeal promising success, I thought of going 
alone, and consulted Whitehurst and Hun- 


ter, in order the better to digest my plans ; 
but they were averse to it, from friendship 
to me, and, from the consideration of tbe 
numerous obstacles, I should have to over- 
come. There was no doubt, truth and 
prudence in their observations ; never- 
theless, 1 resolved not to give it up; 
accordingly, I again mentioned it to 
Neirinks, who, doubting how to act, yet 
desirous of gaining our confidence, now 
consented to assist me with the loan of his 
pocket book, together with certificates and 
passport; provided, that in the event of 
my being taken, I declared I had found 
them in a certain road. This, however, 
was not all that was necessary, for money 
and clothes were wanting ; at length, so 
many difficulties arose, that I feared suc- 
cess was impossible, still, as the plan I 
had laid down, though fraught with dan- 
ger, afforded a chance, I felt that ' my 
friend was entitled to it ; knowing, that if 
he were similarly situated, he would not 
hesitate a moment in risking his liberty^ 
and even his life, to rescue me. Indeed, 
so much was my mind occupied by these 


thoughts, and so mueh were my spirits 
exbilirated by this pleasing hope, that 1 
worked myself into a belief,, that an op- 
portunity of proving my friendship now 
presented itself, in order to put its sin- , ^ 

cerity to the test. With this conviction, 
all hesitation vanished, and spurning im- 
pediments, I determined on the attempt^ 
" coute qui coute." At length, Neirinks, 
seeing I was not to be averted from the 
project, resolved to display a degree of 
*' bravoure" on his " d^but" in this new 
speculation, and boldly consented to ac- 
company me ; as well as to furnish a little 
cash, clothes, &c. My plan was, to pro- 
ceed to Brussels, there to procure a " ca- 
briolet," and go on to Givet ; leave them 
in the suburbs, and walk to the house of 
my old friend Lawmont, a sui^eon in the 
navy, with my face bound up, under pre- 
tence of consulting him for the tooth ache ; 
then smuggle a note into the prison to 
Moyses, desiring him to obtain leave to 
get into town, under pretence of market- 
ing ; and, beiag escorted by an armed 
gend'arme, he, of course, would not be 


on parole. Moyses was to endeavour to 
intoxicate, or, in any way, evade the gnard, 
for which purpose, he was to select one 
not averse to the juice of the grape. It 
may be necessary to explain, that it was a 
common custom in all the depdts of pu- 
nishment when, any one, of the rank of 
midshipman, wished to go into town, to 
purchase provisions, or for other purposes, 
for him to be always accompanied by a 
gen d'arme, who expected his fee, the 
amount of which, generally influenced him 
in the length of time he remained. Al- 
though this was supposed to be done in 
secret, it was always connived at by the 
commandant, who, probably, had his por- 
tion of it. Succeeding thus far, Moyses 
was to get out of the town the best way 
he could, and join us in the suburbs ; when 
we should immediately drive off for Bi'us- 
sels. At this place, a false passport was 
to be ready for him, to proceed and join 
the inhabitants of the garret. In the event 
of being pursued, we were to desert the 
cabriolet, fly to the woods, and travel to 
Bruges, by night : or. if it should appear 


that Moyses could surest any plan more 
feasible, I was ready to adopt it. Neirinks 
having entrusted the secret of our intended 
enterprise to his sister Mary, a lass about 
eighteen, she sounded me on the subject, 
offering to go with us, as far as Brussels, 
and there wait our return. I need not 
describe the astonishment this proposal 
excited, but, it was not for me to question 
its propriety. . 1 was, however^ resolved 
her mother's consent should be first ob- 
tained^ and I saw her for that purpose in 
the evening ; when it was arranged, that we 
should travel as brother and sister, and 
Neirinks, as a wine-merchant. He gave 
me his pocket book, and I studied his sig- 
nature, which I could soon execute ** k 
merveille;" for, it may be proper to state, 
that in the examination of a traveller, 
when any doubt, as to identity arises, he 
is ordered to sign his name, and it is com* 
pared with the one in the passport ; if they 
correspond, the gens d'armes seldom say 
more than '^ cela suffit," and he proceeds. 
On the evening of the 14th of April, Nei- 
rinks, the young lady, and myself, in high 


spirits, took leave of our friends, and em- 
barked in the night pa8sage-lK>at, by the 
canal, to Ghent; where we arrived the 
next morning, about nine, without meeting 
with any unpleasant occurrence. I took 
but little notice of my sister, there being 
several passengers in the boat who knew 
her. After our baggage was inspected, we 
took up our quarters in a tavern, in one of 
the squares, and sent our passports to the 
'' municipality," to be examined, and 
countersigned. Neirinks having receired 
orders from Moitier, to go to Antwerp and 
Flushing, to see, if Peter, the smuggler, 
had returned from taking Mansell to Eng- 
land, I directed him to make himsdf ac- 
quainted with the state and number of the 
vessels of war, in those parts ; also, with 
all the military strength in the neighbour- 
hood ; and he proved himself most discreet 
and indefatigable in obtaining this infor- 
mation. After Neirinks' departure. Ma- 
demoiselle and 1 amused oursdves by 
walking about the town, and visiting the 
&ir;. In this sii^ular. situation,. I passed 
4>iie of my pleairantest days during my 


stay on the continent. To be accompanied 
and protected by an amiable and innocent 
little girl, rendered doubly engaging, by the 
deep interest she manifested in my fate ; 
to be thus escorted through a hostile town, 
where, if known, I should have been 
chained by the neck, and cast into its 
darkest dungeon ; to be accosted with the 
appellation of *^fr6re," imperceptibly grow- 
ing into " mon cher fr^re ;" (" Honi soit 
qui mal y pense")— was, indeed, an inte- 
resting novelty — a diange of circumstances, 
which could not fail to excite the most 
lively feelings of grattitude and esteetn, and 
which I shall ever think and speak of with 
the most pleasing recollections. I felt my- 
self bound to be particularly circumspect 
in my deportment. It was necessary to 
maintain a certain d^ree of easy vivacity, 
without being too forward ; for this might 
have been considered as taking advantage 
of the confidence reposed in me; whilst, 
being reserved, would have appeared cold 
and insensible to the value of her protec- 
tion. In one of our pronieoades, during 
the two 1 days we were at Ghent, we met 


about twenty prisoners, chained' to each 
other by the neck, and escorted by four 
horse gens d'armes ; instead of turning 
down a cross street to avoid them, we 
walked boldly past, to the great amuse- 
ment of my sister, of whose firmness of 
mind I cannot speak too highly. 

Neirinks rejoined us on the third day 
with some important information, and as- 
sured us, that the vigilant manner in which 
the patroles performed their duty, commu- 
nicating hourly, along the whole line of 
coast, would render our embarkation ex- 
tremely hazardous ; this, however, was 
only a reason to be the more prudent. On 
the 1 7th, we proceeded, by the " diligence,'' 
to Brussels, where the same routine of 
sending our passports to the police-office, 
was necessary, to insure our safety. We 
escorted the lady to her aunt's, and retired 
to a public house, where our conversation 
was generally upon the subject of wine, 
for fear of being overheard, knowing that 
such places swarmed with spies. I went 
to the park, hoping to meet with an old 
Verdun acquaintance, named Hinds, re* 



siding here, through whom I expected to 
recruit rny finances, and, in whose friend- 
ship and secresy, confidence might be 
placed; but without finding him. Nei- 
rinks and I then visited his aunt, to whom 
I was introduced as his brother *^ Jean," 
who had been absent many years ; of this, 
however, the loqnacions and merry old 
lady was not to be persuaded, and accused 
me of being the lover of her neice, for 
which, added she, you are the more wel- 
come. Still passing by the name of ** Jean," 
her daughter, if I mistake not, named 
Julie, an interesting young lady, about 
nineteen, received and embraced me as her 
long-lost cousin. The next day, I again 
visited the park ; and, still missing Hinds, 
went to inquire at an adjoining hotel, 
when, to my surprise, I almost ran against 
a lieutenant of gen d'armerie, standing at 
the door; I, however, strolled in, as if 
unconcerned, gently bending as I passed ; 
but, gaining no intelligence, I returned to 
the park, when, at length, meeting Hinds,^ 
and bowing respectfully, I addressed him 
in French, for fear of observation. His 


Rurprise was so great, that be appeared to 
doubt tbe evidence of his senses, knowing, 
that five months before, I had broken out 
of a prison, only eighteen leagues distant. 
We retired to his lodgings, where the lead- 
ing occurrences, since my escape, and the 
cause of my visiting Brussels, were briefly 
related. He seemed to suspect a hoax, 
and accused me of having some deep 
scheme in view, which I would not dis- 
close, cautioning me against remaining any 
time in the town, as the police was very 
strict, and assisting m^ with the loan of a 
few pounds. On returning to Neirinks's 
aunfs, and entering the spacious drawing- 
room, I found tbe young ladies sitting 
" t6te-^^-t6te," by a comfortable fire. As 
they arose when I drew near, I perceived 
a transparent drop trickling down X^e pale 
cheek of Julie, and something, like con- 
fusion stealing over the evidently excited- 
countenances of both ; " quel fataj pr^ent 
du ciel, qu'un cceur sensible." Fearing 
that nay untimely intrusion was the cause 
of this perturbation, I genUy bowed, and 
wa^ in the act of retiring, when Mary^ 


advanced, and modestly led me up to bar 
cousin, who, with a graceful affability, 
presented her band, faltering something 
quite unintelligible; nor could I divine 
the mystery of this scene, until she 
wished me a safe arrival in the bosom 
of my family. It being evident, by this 
observation, that she had been entrusted 
with the secret of my disguise, we drew 
very cosily rouod the «r/ and I «m««Kl 
them with my history, 

'^ Wherein I spoke of most disastrous chances, 
Of moving accidents, by flood and field:*' 

which seemed to excite so lively an interest, 
that Julie entered into the spirit of the plot, 
with as much warmth smd ardour as her 
cousin, and determined upon asking her 
mother's permission to return with us to 
Bruges; but it was not granted. The 
next day, Neirinks not appearing, I strut- 
ted about the town, with the ladies under 
my arm; visited all the fashionable pro- 
menades, and, in the evening, went to the 
theatre : towards the close of the perform*- 
ance, Neirinks came in ; we escorted the 


ladies home, and retired to our taverD. 
On the 21st, under the responsibility of 
our jovial old aunt, we hired a ^^ cabri- 
olet," left Brussels early for Charleroi, 
intending to take the cross road thence, to 
Cbarlemont,* that being, as we thought, 
less dangerous. Nothing remarkable oc- 
curred, but the occasional meeting of a 
gen d'arme, which had now become so 
common an event, that it gave me little 
concern ; still, however, I could not help 
feeling a degree of anxiety at the first 
sight of two of these fellows, standing at 
the door of a public-house, where it was 
necessary that we should stop to bait the 
horse. Neirinks proposed going on, but 
as he knew of no other house on the road, 
it might have created suspicion ; I there- 
fore judged it more prudent to brave it 
out, fully confident in my own powers, 
should any question be asked, of cajoling 
them into the belief of our being wine- 
merchants. We drove up to the door, 

* Charlemont, is a fortification, situated on the left 
bank of the Meuse, commanding the two towns of 
Givet, whither we were bound. 


jumped out, and called for the ^' gar^on 
d'6curie," with an air of importance, in 
imitation of that French dignity, with 
which travellers are not unacquainted, 
gave the necessary orders, and mounted up 
the steps to the door, the two gens d'armes 
opening, right and left, to make room. In 
passing, I saluted them with *' Bon jour, 
Messieurs, pent on trouver k d6je6ner ici," 
to which, reply was given in the affirma- 
tive ; we walked in, and ordered breakfast : 
soon after, these fellows entered, and 
marched up, as if to question us ; I fore- 
stalled them by an appropriate observation 
on the weather, and asking them if they 
had breakfasted, followed up this address 
with so rapid a succession of interroga- 
tories, and remarks, as to lead them into 
conversation, and prevent their being too 
inquisitive: when, proposing we should 
all breakfast together, they were so com- 
pletely diverted from their intention, that 
we sat dovm in a very friendly manner, 
and fared sumptuously, without any em- 
barrassing inquiries. Having paid the 
host, we continued our route, arrived at 



Charleroi, about seven in the evening, and 
supped with some countrymen^ who in- 
formed us, the road to Charlemont was im* 
passable for a *^ cabriolet/' and that we 
should be obliged to go round by Namur. 
After a savoury regale upOn fricandeau 
and garlic, I retired to a comfortable bed ; 
but my mind was so wholly engrossed by 
the pleasing reflections of meeting, and 
delivering my friend from bondage, that I 
could scarcely close my eyes. The next 
morning, we set out for Namur, and arrived 
about noon. At three, we proceeded on 
our journey, intending to go no further 
that night than Dinant, about three leagues 
from Givet; so that the horse might be 
. fresh on departing thence, with our prize. 
Just as we were approaching the southern 
gate, to our astonishment, and, 1 may add, 
confusion, we met Moitier, on his return 
from Verdun, who, no less surprised than 
ourselves at this unexpected " rencontre," 
demanded where we were going, adding, 
without giving us time to reply — " Follow 
me," and went into an adjoining hotel. Oa 
retiring into a private room, he gave me a 


letter from Willsi containing a confirma- 
tion of every thing 1 had expected from sa 
valuable a friend, and indeed, more; for 
he had entertained Moitier at his house for 
tviro days, treating him in the most hand- 
some manner; got niy bills cashed, and 
guaranteed payment of every engagement 
I should enter into with him. This letter 
also gave me information of Moyses having 
been sent from Givet to Bitche, distant 
about two hundred miles, for an offence 
similar to the one for which I was " ca^- 
choted" in Valenciennes: but I had been 
so anxiously brooding over his anticipated 
rescue, that this letter did not/ at first, de* 
stroy all hope of prosecuting my plans, 
even to the very walls of this horrible bas- 
tille ; but, when I calmly discussed the 
subject with Moitier and Neirinks, the 
impracticability of success became so evi- 
dent, that I was compelled, although very 
reluctantly, to abandon the design. Moi- 
tier's vacillating, equivocal conduct, was 
now changed into a bold and steady de- 
termination to enter into the cause, with 
spirit and energy : in proof of which, he 



ofiered to lend me any sum I chose to bor- 
row. Leaving him to follow by the *' dili- 
gence/' Neirinks and myself immediately 
departed for Brassels, but did not arrive 
until late that night. Here we remained 
during the 23rd, not anxious to hurry back, 
knowing that we should be at Bruges be- 
fore Moitier. This day was passed at my 
aunt's; the next, Neirinks, my sister^ and 
myself bade adieu to the family, and took 
the " diligence," to Ghent, where, on the 
following morning, we were joined by Moi- 
tier, who, in the afternoon, left us for 
Flushing, in order to make arrangements 
with Peter. The next morning, we em- 
barked in the canal boat for Bruges, and 
arriving there after a pleasant day's journey, 
waited at the very public-house I had 
visited with my companions on the night 
of the 22nd of November, until (it being 
then after hours), the porter had taken our 
names to the Commandant, with the re- 
quest, that the gates might be opened — 
little could he imagine, that this appli- 
cation was, in part, made for an abscond- 
ing English midshipman. After conduct- 


ing my sister home, I rejoined my friends 
in the garret, who were much elated at 
my return ; for, from my long absence, 
tbey were apprehensive I had been taken. 
The relation of the various events which 
had occurred since our separation, afforded 
matter of amusement during the next day, 
though it was not without its alloy, arising 
from the failure of the expedition. Soon 
after my return, I was introduced to a 
Mr. Edwards, an Englishman, residing in 
Bruges. I have since learnt, that it was 
this gentleman, who put Moitier in the 
right way of sending Mansell to England : 
indeed, the imminent risk Mr. Edwards 
ran, in receiving Whitehurst and Hunter 
at his house, at all seasonable hours during 
my absence, to share his scanty meal, 
when they were literally starving, without 
even a hope of recompense, but that of 
our gratitude, and the pleasure derived 
from the performance of a benevolent act, 
cannot be spoken of but with the warmest 
feelings of esteem. In hourly expectation 
of Moitier's arrival from Flushing, vnth 
orders to depart, we waited till the 28th, 


when Neirinks brought word, that the 
guide would be iu attendance the follow- 
ing day. Since my return, I passed the 
evenings with his family, entertaining his 
old mother with various tales, having, by 
this time, with the aid of my fair friends, 
acquired sufficient knowledge of the Fle- 
mish language, to make myself understood ; 
the old lady could only speak her native 
tongue. From the account her daughter 
had given of our adventures, she evidently 
felt pleased with my attention. I have 
already mentioned the agreement I had 
made with Moitier ; but, on his return from 
Flushing, he declared that Peter, from 
the imminent risk he bad run in his late 
trip, would not undertake to carry us 
across the channel, under J^80 ; that he, 
Moitier, had calculated on paying him 
only £40 : Peter was to receive one-half 
on landing in England, and a note of 
hand was to be left with Moitier, for the 
other. The ^80 were paid ; but, I have 
since learned from Neirinks, that this 
story was a fabrication of Moitier's, who 
pocketed the additional ^40. The hour 


of departure now drawing near, I sent 
my adiea to Madame Derikre, repeating 
my assurance of the faithful discharge of 
her bills, which, with the cash she had 
already received, amounted to about ^80, 
besides what Mansell might have given 
her. To Madame Moitier also, I conveyed 
the expression of my best thanks, for all 
her attentions, assuring her, that although, 
in all probability, I should never see her 
again, yet, the recollection of the first 
reception I had met with from her, would 
ever excite my most heartfelt gratitude; 
and, that the manner in which her base- 
band should be remunerated, would prove 
that she was not deceived, in the favour- 
able opinion she had entertained of the 
honour of British officers. On the 29th, 
soon after sunset, I visited Nerinks's family, 
expressed my acknowledgment of their 
kindness, more particularly to '* ma ch^re 
sceur;" embraced them, and departed. 
Having rejoined my comrades, just at the 
close of the evening, we made ourselves as 
much like Flemings as possible, and stole 
out of the garret, singly, following each 


other at about fifty paces distance^ con- 
ducted by Neirinks. Our almost only 
danger now» was in escaping the obser- 
vation of the guard, at the gates ; but as, 
at this time, many people were passing 
and repassing, we mingled with the crowd, 
and, unnoticed, joined the guide, who was 
waiting in the vicinity. Our joy was now 
great indeed, almost equal to that expe- * 

rienced when we found ourselves in the i 

ditch, after descending the last rampart at 
Valenciennes. It had been previously ar- 
ranged, that Neirinks should accompany 
us to England, to receive the stipulated 
reward. Attended by him we marched in 
pairs, by woods and cross roads, towards 
the island of Cadsand, opposite to Flush- 
ing, till about one, A.M. expecting imme- 
diately to embark. On arriving near the 
coast, we met Peter's wife, who ordered us 
to lie down on the ground, whilst this 
Amazonian chief reconnoitred the strand. 
She had scarcely proceeded a hundred 
yards, when she was hailed, and saluted 
with a shot: like a skilful general, she in- 
instantly made good her retreat^ and 



bivouac'd with the maiu body. In this 
position, we remained for about two hours, 
whilst Peter, and his chief were occa- 
sionally watching the motions of the 
enemy, and looking out for the private 
signal from the boat. Our anxiety was 
now at its utmost stretch, and every pass- 
ing moment appeared an age. The look- 
out, every now and then, was obliged to 
retreat, to avoid the patroles; although, 
had the boat arrived, being well armed, 
amidst irregular sand hills, and the spirits 
inflamed by confidence, our object could 
not have been defeated easily, or with im- 
punity. The boat not coming, we were 
obliged to retreat to Peter's hut, for con- 
cealment. This habitation had but one 
room; a few loose boards lying across 
from side to side upon mud walls, which 
supportied ^ a straw roof, formed a kind of 
ceiling to about one half of it : on these 
boards were spread some dry rushes, upon 
which we reposed. In this situation, day 
after day closed, whilst we expected each 
succeeding one to be the last in this 
country ; but no appearance of the boat, — 


and, as no exertions on our part could ex- 
pedite its arrival, we did not quit the loft. 
At length, on the 8th of May, positive in- 
formation was brought, that all would be 
in readiness at ten P. M.; accordingly, at 
that hour, the weather fine, and the night 
dark, we assemUed in the sand hills, and 
so soon as the patrole had psfssed, the pri- 
vate signal was made and answered. The 
boat gliding silently to the beach, with 
muffled oars, we rushed in with the rapi- 
dity of thought, and, in an instant, were 
all safe afloat; each seized an oar, and, 
vigorously applying his utmost strength, 
we soon reached beyond the range of shot. 
It were vain to attempt a faithful de- 
scription of our feelings at this momentous 
crisis ; the lapse of a few -minutes had 
wrought such a change of extremes, that 
I doubt, if amidst a confusion of senses, 
we could immediately divest ourselves of 
the apprehensions, which constant habit 
had engrafted on the mind ; nor, indeed, 
eonld we relinquish the oar, but continued 
at this laborious, though now delightful, 
occupation, almost without intermission 


the whole night. When day dawned, Hi« 
breeze fregrhened from the eastward, and as 
the sun began to diffuse his cheering rays, 
the wide expanse of liberty opened around 
ns, and the distant rear — the afflicted 
land of misery and bondage, was beheld 
with feelings of gratitude and triumph. 
No other object intercepted the boundless 
prospect, save a solitary gun-brig, which 
was soon approached : naturally anxious 
to proceed with despatch^ we passed on, 
and, unobserved, reached a considerable 
distance, when a boat was discovered 
making towards us ; being in no fear of 
Frenchmen thus venturing so far from 
land, we hove too ; and, having made the 
officer acquainted with the circumstances 
of onr embarkation and destination, again 
spread the canvas, and made rapid pro- 
gress to the N. W. About noon, the wind 
still increasing, and the sea rising, it was 
deemed prudent to close reef the sail. 
While thns delightfully scudding before 
the foaming billows, which occasionally 
broke, as if to overwhelm onr little boat, 
only fifteen feet in leng(ii, each eye was 


steadily fixed a-head, anxious to be the 
first to announce land. It was not, how- 
ever, till towards three P.M. that the 
white cliffs were seen. Although our 
situation was already replete with ^'joy 
and gladness ;" still, the first sight of our 
native shore, after so long an absence, 
coupled with the recollection of conquered 
difficulties, excited increased happiness; 
affording ample compensation for past 
sufferings, though not without a pleas- 
ing hope, that promotion would be their 

On falling in with a fishing smack, at 
the back of the Goodwin Sands, the master 
welcomed us on board, and taking the 
boat in tow, ran for Ramsgate. On en« 
tering the harbour at five o'clock, I landed 
with such ineffable emotions of joy, and 
gratitude to that Almighty Disposer of 
events, who had vouchsafed to support 
and protect us through a coi^stant succes- 
sion of dangers and sufferings, during a 
period of nearly six months, and who, in 
his infinite mercy, had permitted our exer- 
tions to be finally crowned with success ; 


that, with a heart throbbing almost to 
suffocation, regardless of the numerous 
spectators, I fell down, and kissed, with 
rapture, the blessed land of liberty. 

After a short conversation with the har- 
bour master, to our surprise and disap- 
pointment, we found that foreigners were 
not allowed to land here, but were ordered 
to Dover ; although convinced that they 
were in perfect safety, we felt it a point of 
honour, not to have even the appearance 
of deserting those, to whom we were in- 
debted for the happiness we now enjoyed : 
though the impatience to embrace our long* 
lost families, (mine only eight miles dis- 
tant), may be more easily conceived than 
expressed. We therefore determined to 
accompany, and see them comfortably 
placed in a public house. To this end, I 
returned to the smack, the master of which 
agreed to run us down. Before making 
sail, I wrote a note to one of my brothers, 
residing at Margate, apprizing him of my 
arrival, that he might communicate it to 
my family. We reached Dover about 
eight P.M., but not being permitted to 



land afker dark, slept on board. At day- 
light, of the 10th of May, having taken the 
foreigners to the Custom-house, thence to 
a public-house, and ordered them what- 
ever they desired, we took chaises and 
departed for Betshanger, the residence of 
my father. 

Mansell, on his return to England, 
anxious to bear glad tidings to my family, 
called at Betshanger, and, injudiciously, 
assured a younger lister, whom he hap- 
pened to find alone, that *^ we should be 
either dead, or in England, in three weeks, 
as we had vowed not to be taken alive.*' 
Many months having elapsed since any 
letters from France had reached home, my 
parents received this information with 
mingled feelings of joy and fear, and, im- 
mediately se£ on foot every method inge- 
nuity an^ affection could devise, to render 
assistance through the smugglers. As the 
time of the stipulated return drew to a 
close, so did parental fear and anxiety 
proportionably increase, till, at the expira- 
tion of six long weeks, hope itself sickened ; 
still no returning child — ^no possibility of 


affording relief, nor of learning his fate ; 
their minds agitated too with the conscious- 
nesSy that if not already numbered with the 
dead, he must still be wandering through 
dreary woods, exposed to the severest suf- 
ferings, and *^ every man his foe ;" these 
were indeed heart-rending reflections, suf- 
ficient to harrow up the feelings, and 
tincture every thought with inconsoleable 
grief. It was in the plenitude of these 
feelings, at the day's first dawn, for 

" Nature's soft nurse, 

Had fled their pillow :" 

when they were endeavouring to afford 
mutual consolation, and actually discussing 
the propriety of family moutning, that my 
brother burst upon their deep, yet pious 
sorrow, with news of our safety and arrival. 

The effect which this suddea informa- 
tion must have had upon the best of 
parents — ^parents alone can judge ; suffice 
it to say, they were not unmindful that 
their prayers were heard by Him, " who 
is able to save.'' 

On the road from Dover, at a m6ment 


when my attention was directed towards 
a neighbouring village, in search of the 
roof under which I had received the first 
impressions of discipline, Neirinks, whom 
I had taken with me, and who was ad- 
miring every thing he saw, as " magnifique/' 
suddenly exclaimed — " Regardez ce v6- 
n6rable dans cette belle voiture," when I 
immediately recognized my father ; we 
joined, and speedily drove to Betshanger, 
where a scene awaited me, that I had little 
anticipated ; but, as I do not intend to 
intrude upon the public, what more pro- 
perly belongs to private detail, let the 
imagination of the reader depict to himself 
this family meeting. Nevertheless^ as 
these pages may probably fall into the 
hands of some, who may be desirous of 
knowing what became of the foreigners, 
and how we were all finally disposed of, 
I shall add, that Neirinks remained at 
Betshanger, until the return of the boat 
on the 17th, which being put on board a 
gun-brig, by order of Commodore (now 
Admiral Sir Edward) Owen, was sent, 
together with the foreigners, off" Flushing. 


With the money they received, and which 
they considered amply sufficient to recom- 
pense them for their services, they had 
previously purchased a quantity of indigo 
and coffee, which yielded them a profit of 
about 600 per cent. ; we had, therefore, not 
only the satisfaction of knowing that they 
were content with the result of their pre- 
sent trip, but that it would be ah induce- 
ment for them to afford every assistance in 
their power to any of our countrymen, who 
might, at a future period, escape from con- 
finement, and reach that part of the coast. 
Our own expenses amounted to ^135 each. 
Hunter was soon afterwards employed, and 
promoted in 181 1 . Whitehurst was sent to 
the Halifax station, where he had not been 
long before he was again made prisoner 
in the "Junon," and detained in France 
during the remainder of the war. Mansell, 
a short time after, died at sea. The day 
after my arrival, I proceeded to London, 
and had the honour of an audience of Lord 
Mulgrave, then first Lord of the Admiralty; 
a few days subsequent to which, his lord* 
ship was pleased to issue an order for my 



examiDatiou, without waiting the usual 
period fixed for that purpose, and then 
immediately appointed rae lieut^aant of 
the Arachne ; this particular mark of his 
lordship's approbation, in thus dispensing, 
in my favour, with the customary r^u- 
lations observed on such occasions, made an 
impression on my mind not to be effaced. 
In June, Captain Chambers joined, and the 
brig, when ready for sea, was ordered to 
Flushing, where I met my old friend Pi^r 
the smuggler, he gave me a letter from 
Rickets, Rochford, and Robinson^ whom I 
had left at Valenciennes, and who, having 
lately escaped thence, were then lying coti- 
cealed in the neighbourhood of the *^ Cat/' 
The contents of the letter, through the 
channel of my worthy captain, were com- 
municated to Sir Richard J. Strachan, the 
commander-in-chief, who directed him to 
give me a written order to adopt such 
measures as I should judge prudent for 
their delivery; this order was given, to 
prove, in the event of my being made 
prisoner in the attempt, that I was no spy. 
In consequence of the capture of the island 


of Walcheren, which had taken place since 
my departure from this coast, it was rea- 
sonable to suppose that the vigilance of 
the enemy had considerably increased^ and 
it therefore became indispensably necessary 
that the greatest circumspection should be 
observed in my proceedings. I accordingly 
consulted Rickets' father, then in the The- 
seus, and in one of the boats of that ship, 
most ably manned with a crew of the Bas 
Roads^re eaters^ made sail with Peter. On 
approaching the main, about midnight, we 
struck the mast, pulled in with muffled 
oars, and silently landed him, unobserved 
by the patroles, on the very spot whence 
I had embarked on the 8th of May, not- 
withstanding the enemy in the interim had 
erected a two-gun battery but a few yards 
distant ; we shoved gently out, and came 
to a grapnel, waiting his return with the 
fugitives ; but they not appearing, at dawn 
of day we returned to the Theseus. This 
trip was repeated four other nights without 
success; no signal being made. On the 
sixth day the Arachne was ordered to sea, 
and I was thereby most unwillingly obliged 


to relinquish the heart-felt satisfaction I 
had anticipated, in being the deliverer of 
those very friends who had assisted me in 
my escape from the citadel of Valenciennes. 
Happily, however, they did not suffer from 
my absence, for the same night, qay place 
was supplied by Lieutenant Edger, of the 
Theseus, who, although a stranger to the 
parties, nobly volunteered his services on 
the occasion. He being made acquainted 
with my plans, proceeded to the same 
spot ; about ten P. M. the private signal 
was made, he pulled in, in an instant the 
fugitives rushed into the boat, and shortly 
after were happily restored to their famU 
lies and friends. 


J. Unwin, Printer, White Lion Courr, CornhiJI. 




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